HC Deb 08 December 1920 vol 135 cc2111-2

asked the Minister of Food whether he has received any representations from traders' asso ciations to the effect that traders in sugar have been involved in financial loss as a result of the orders of the Ministry of Food to traders to accumu late stocks during the coal strike, at the same time limiting the amount to be sold to customers and then ordering a reduc tion of price before a sufficient time had elapsed for the accumulated stocks to be sold; whether, in issuing such orders in future, he will give longer notice of such changes in price to traders; and whether he will ensure that no notice of such a kind shall be given to the Press until the official order has been made?


The reply to the first part of the question is in the affirmative. As the Food Controller has already pointed out, during the continued advance in the price of sugar from the pre-War level of about 2d. per lb. to the recent high price of Is. 2d. per lb., traders were allowed to retain the esfcra profits on stocks held at each successive increase in the pries, and, therefore, it is only reasonable that they should be prepared to face the risks of a falling market. An exceptional situation was no doubt created by the request of the Government to traders to hold large stocks in the emergency created by the recent coal strike. In the case of retailers, this was met by the retention for a fortnight of the higher scale of approved retail prices. The Food Controller is prepared to consider the possibility of affording some relief to individual wholesalers in cases where it is proved that surplus stocks have been accumulated directly in response to the request made on behalf of the Govern ment. It is not practicable to give longer notice of changes in prices. I am not aware that any communication was made to the Press in anticipation of the official announcement.