§ Mr. ERNEST JARDINE
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Agriculture whether he is aware that, according to Army Council Order, Form 19, dated 30th June, 1916, the maximum price at which a farmer may sell his hay is £5 10s. per ton, whereas a dealer to whom the farmer sells the hay at £5 10s. may sell it at £1 10s.; and, if so, whether, seeing that the dealer is thus permitted to take £2 per ton, or 36½ per cent profit out of the farmer, he will say what steps he proposes to take?
§ Mr. FORSTER
The difference of £2 per ton does not represent pure profit as suggested, but also covers the cost of baling or trussing, transport by rail, and delivery from rail to consumer's barn with establishment charges and other incidental expenses. When these charges are allowed for the margin of profit is considerably reduced. It should also be remembered that, while the figure of £7 10s. is a maximum price for the whole of this country, the cost of delivery to the consumer varies, and it may be left to competition to secure the necessary adjustments within the maximum. It is further open to the farmer to sell direct to the consumer and obtain for himself the retailer's profit, and many farmers actually dispose of their hay in this way.