HC Deb 14 December 1926 vol 200 cc2744-5
11. Mr. HAYES

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether his attention has been called to the retail prices of soaps; whether he is aware that the increase in retail prices of soaps, 63 per cent. fatty acids, is 133 per cent. increase over pre-War price, whereas the increase in cost of raw materials is less than 8 per cent.; and whether he proposes to take any action to check profiteering in this commodity?


I understand that the retail price of household yellow soap is to-day on the average about 70 per cent. greater than in July, 1914. The prices of raw materials have risen to a less extent, although more than is suggested in the question; but there are other factors entering into the cost of production, and I do not think the position is such as to necessitate special action on the part of the Government. The hon. Member is no doubt aware that the price of soap has fallen greatly, since the high level reached immediately after the War.


In view of the fact that this information is supplied by the trade, and in view of the importance of the question to the trading community and the householder, will the right hon. Gentleman form a tribunal to inquire into this particular form of profiteering?


I do not think that is necessary. There has been a fall in price since 1920, from 11d. to 6d. I am not saying whether it is sufficient or not, but I am sure of this, that to have a large number of inquiries instituted into trades at the present time is not the best way to assist trade.


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the price has actually increased in the last few weeks?


As the right hon. Gentleman has sanctioned inquiries having for their purpose the rising of prices, why will he not sanction an inquiry having for its purpose the lowering of prices?


That is a different point.