HC Deb 17 February 1920 vol 125 cc715-7
76. Mr. HOLMES

asked the Food Controller if he will state the reason for the shortage of sugar in this country, having regard to the fact that it can be freely obtained in most European countries, including Germany?


The shortage of sugar in this country is due to a general world shortage in supply, coupled with an increase in consumption, chiefly in America, and to the urgent necessity of improving the national credit by reducing, as far as possible, the importation of commodities produced in foreign countries. I cannot assent to the statement that supplies of sugar are more plentiful in most European countries than in the United Kingdom. The information at my disposal is to the contrary effect, particularly as regards Germany.


Is the hon. Gentleman aware that a traveller recently went on an extended tour through France, Germany and Switzerland, taking with him a supply of sugar, and that he used his own store for the first time when he arrived back at a London hotel?


I know nothing whatever about the adventures of the traveller in question. So far as the statistics for the whole world are concerned, and not the experience of an individual, there is no question that there is a most substantial deficit in the supply of sugar as compared with the world's normal demand.


Is there any truth in the statement that the Americans have consumed 600,000 tons more sugar since total prohibition?


I understand the consumption of sugar in America since total prohibition has perceptibly increased. As to the precise amount, I must ask for notice.


Is there any intention on the part of the Food Control Office to diminish the supplies which are given to confectioners at present?


I must ask for notice of that question.


Is there any possibility of the Government considering the advisability of encouraging the production of English beet sugar?


That question should be addressed to my hon. Friend who represents agriculture.


Will the hon. Gentlemen consult with the Minister for Agriculture as to what has become of the many thousands which have been spent in experimenting on beet sugar in the past few years?

78. Lieut.-Colonel W. GUINNESS

asked the Food Controller whether large consignments of sugar urgently needed by consumers in England have been held up for several weeks in the White Star shed at Southampton owing to the failure of the Sugar Commission to give the necessary instructions to the dock company for their disposal; and whether any steps are being taken to deal with the matter?


The question appears to refer to a consignment of sugar not intended for immediate consumption which was stored for some weeks at Southampton in space which was believed to be suitable for the purpose. When it was pointed out to the Commission that the space in question was transit shed space, arrangements were at once made for the removal of the sugar in question.

79. Lieut.-Colonel GUINNESS

asked the Food Controller whether supplies of sugar from Cuba and other places, which he has refused to buy, find their way viâ America to England in the form of sweets of American manufacture, the cheapest form of which are retailed at 2d. per ounce; and whether, in view of the state of the American exchange, steps could be taken to import the sugar and to allow it to be manufactured in this country, even if it were to cost as much as 1s. a pound?


I understand that a certain quantity of confectionery is being imported from America, but I am unable to ascertain the country of origin of the sugar used in its manufacture. I am advised that in the present state of supplies any endeavour to purchase further sugar for consumption in this country would lead to increased demands on the part of the producers, and increase the price of sugar generally.

Lieut.-Colonel GUINNESS

From the exchange point of view is it not quite the name thing wherever the sugar originally comes from? Would it not be desirable to pay a smaller sum to America by eliminating the charge for manufacture?


Yes We have no desire to encourage the import of American confectionery.

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