HC Deb 08 December 1949 vol 470 cc2064-5
25. Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

asked the President of the Board of Trade why, by S.I., 1949, No. 1934, he has exempted from price control sales of sulphuric acid to Government Departments.

Mr. H. Wilson

The intention of the exemption is to provide for purchases of sulphuric acid by Government Departments in cases where the maximum price cannot be assessed under Section 2 (b) of the Order by reference to the maximum price already paid by comparable industrial undertakings in the area where the acid is to be consumed.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

But why should Government Departments be permitted to pay a price which, if paid by private firms, would amount to a black market transaction, and what justification is there for giving Government Departments a privilege to evade price restrictions imposed on everybody else?

Mr. Wilson

There is no question of black market transactions in this. What we have in mind is that there are certain Ministry of Supply atomic and other research establishments situated in areas where there are no other consumers on the basis of which it would be possible to fix a fair price, and therefore they are exempted for this reason.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

But is this concession given to any privately owned firm placed in the same position?

Mr. Wilson

If there was a privately owned firm in an area where there were no other comparable consumers, naturally special arrangements would have to be made.

Mr. William Shepherd

Is it not a fact that variations in price are caused only by the variation of the cost of delivery, and surely the reason advanced by the right hon. Gentleman is quite improper?