HC Deb 02 December 1920 vol 135 cc1432-4
33. Commander Viscount CURZON

asked the Prime Minister whether the continued fall in the price of wheat now justifies a reconsideration of the Government control of wheat with a view to the reduction of the price of bread?

The MINISTER of FOOD (Mr. McCurdy)

I have been asked to reply. It is only within the last fortnight that the current world price of wheat has fallen below the parity of the price of flour, which for three years has been supplied to the consumer in this country considerably below the world price. A reduction in the price of imported wheat to millers has already been made, and further reductions are contemplated. In the case of wheat, as in that of every other commodity still subject to restrictions, it is the duty of my Department to keep all changes, either in prices or supplies, constantly under review with a view of accelerating as far as possible the removal of all unnecessary restrictions and controls.

Viscount CURZON

If the control of wheat were removed would not the price of bread be lower?


Can the right hon. Gentleman say how long it will be before the Government are prepared to sell flour to bakers so that they can reduce the price of bread at least to Is. per loaf?


I would remind the Noble Lord that the present movement of wheat prices represents quotations in Chicago, which can only be economically reflected in the retail price of flour in this country after an interval of some weeks. As I have said before, further reductions are contemplated, but it is impossible for me to state precisely at what date we are likely to get back to the Is. loaf. Personally, I hope it may not be long delayed.


What is mainly responsible for the price of the loaf? Is it not the cost of the right hon. Gentleman's Department?


May I ask the Prime Minister whether, in view of the state of affairs with regard to the falling prices of wheat, he will now make up his mind as to the abolition of the Wheat Commission, which is costing £150,000 a year and employs 538 persons?