HC Deb 03 August 1914 vol 65 cc1792-4W

asked the Prime Minister if the Government is prepared with a scheme for the protection of the people in every part of the country against exorbitant prices of food being artificially created by speculators and trusts, and for the purpose of preventing unnecessary wastage in consumption; and if so does he contemplate putting such a scheme into operation.


The Prime Minister has asked me to answer this question. The matters to which the hon. Baronet refers have long been under the careful consideration of the Committee of Imperial Defence, and plans have been prepared for safeguarding the regular supply and distribution of food-stuffs. Detailed arrangements for carrying out these plans in the light of the present situation are engaging the attention of a Committee of the Cabinet in consultation with the Departments concerned. Meanwhile it is desirable that I should state emphatically that there are abundant supplies available, and that there is no justification whatever for panic prices.


asked the Prime Minister whether, in view of the comparative scarcity and high price of meat both in this country and abroad and its incalculable value as a national asset in times of extreme emergency, the Government will, if faced with the prospect of a European war, consider the desirability of making an appeal to the more prosperous classes in this country to economise, in the interests of their poorer fellow citizens, their consumption of this important commodity during the next few months?


I entirely endorse the hon. Member's appeal. It is in my opinion applicable to all classes of people and to all kinds of foodstuffs. I trust that the publicity thus given to the matter will have the effect desired.


asked the Prime Minister whether, in view of the present large dependence of the nation for its provision of bread-stuffs upon wheat coming from the Black Sea, the supply of which may be stopped or materially reduced in the immediate future, the Government will consider the desirability, in the national interest, of offering some financial inducement to British farmers to retain in stack on their own premises at the disposal of the Government either the whole or a large proportion of the wheat, and possibly other cereals, now being harvested in the United Kingdom?


The whole subject is receiving the earnest attention of His Majesty's Government.