HC Deb 21 March 1917 vol 91 cc1916-7W

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food whether his attention has been called to the way in which the existing supply of potatoes has been distributed to the public during the past few weeks, resulting in many large families of the working class being unable to obtain any potatoes at all; whether the Food Controller will consider the possibility of arranging for the distribution of all essential articles of food in which there is any shortage in such a way as to ensure that the whole population, poor and rich, shall be able to obtain an equal share of the available supply; and, if this is impracticable under the existing complex machinery, which is in private hands and conducted for profit, whether he will consider the advisability of making the local and municipal authorities responsible for the distribution at fixed Government prices?


The answer to the first part of the question is in the affirmative. The Food Controller has ensured that so long as potatoes are available at all, their price shall not put them beyond the reach of the poorer classes. Unfortunately the shortage is so considerable that an increased supply can only be made available for the poor, who need them most, if those who can afford to buy articles of food of a similar character abstain from the consumption of potatoes as completely as possible. An appeal by the Food Controller to this effect appeared in the Press this morning.


asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food whether he has considered the advisability of fixing a flat rate or price for potatoes, and by doing away with periodic increases remove the cause of holding up necessary and urgent supplies?


As I have already stated, the object in fixing a higher price for potatoes delivered during the later months of the season was to prevent the whole of their stocks being thrown on the market at once. There is no evidence that farmers are unduly withholding potatoes from the market, and the Food Controller sees no reason to vary the Order now in force.

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