§ 26. Sir R. THOMAS
asked the Minister of Agriculture whether his attention 830 has been drawn to the high proportion of the retail cost of agricultural produce which is accounted for by middlemen's profits; and whether he will institute inquiries into this with the object of ascertaining how the interests of farmers and consumers may be protected?
§ The MINISTER of AGRICULTURE (Mr. Guinness)
The Linlithgow Committee analysed very thoroughly the costs and profits involved in the distribution of agricultural produce in general, and an exhaustive enquiry has since been undertaken by the Royal Commission on Food Prices into the profits of intermediaries engaged in the wheat, flour, bread and meat trades. Further, in pursuance of the recommendation of this Commission, the Food Council has been set up as a standing body to keep a watchful eye on food prices generally. I see no necessity, therefore, for a further and special enquiry into this aspect of marketing.
§ Mr. MONTAGUE
Is not the question one, not only of good prices, but also of the number of middlemen between the producer and the consumer?
§ Mr. GUINNESS
Yes, but we have plenty of information on that subject. The Ministry is carrying out a series of marketing investigations which have as their object to suggest to the farmer how he may get a larger share of the price which the consumer pays.
§ Sir R. THOMAS
Does not the right hon. Gentleman think that it would bring the matter prominently before the notice of the farmers if the inquiries which I suggest were instituted.
§ Mr. GUINNESS
I think the farmer is fully aware of the difficulty with which he is faced by having to buy retail and sell wholesale.