HC Deb 27 October 1919 vol 120 cc249-51

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he is in a position to inform the House the number of cities, towns, villages, and boroughs that have so far failed to set up profiteering tribunals; if he can inform the House of the reasons why these tribunals have not been set up; and what action he proposes to take in those places where there is no tribunal to which the public can appeal when they have evidence of profiteering?


One hundred and eighty-seven local authorities out of 2,042 to whom invitations were sent have failed to appoint local committees under the Profiteering Act. Among those who have given a reason for their refusal some allege that either there is no profiteering in their district or that they dislike the provisions of the Act requiring that the expenses be met out of the local rates and not out of funds voted by Parliament. If the public in any district consider that a local committee should be established it is for them to bring pressure to bear on the local authority to appoint a committee.


asked the President of the Board of Trade if he is aware of the fact that the present working of the Profiteering Act is not proving an effective deterrent to profiteering; and what action lie proposes to take in the matter?


I am unable to admit the premises of my hon. Friend's question. In view of the short time which has elapsed since the passing of the Act it is too early to say whether the Act has been or will be an effective deterrent to profiteering.

14. Mr. LORDEN

asked the President of the Board of Trade if his attention has been drawn to the action of certain gas companies in raising the rents for meters, stoves, and apparatus let on hire by 50 per cent., even when such meter, stove, or apparatus was installed prior to 1914; and, as local committees are in doubt how to act in these cases, will fie take the necessary action to stop this profiteering?


My attention has been called to the matters referred to in my hon. Friend's question. As the hire of a gas-meter or a gas-stove is not a sale or offer for sale of an article, I am advised that the Profiteering Act cannot be applied to the rentals charged for the hire of such articles.

Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY

Is there any chance of having the Act amended—possibly by leave of this House—to include such cases?


I think in fairnees I may inform the House that we have been considering very carefully whether the Profiteering Act requires any amendment to extend the powers granted under it. That is at present under consideration.

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