HC Deb 01 July 1919 vol 117 cc784-5W

asked the Minister of Food whether his attention has been called to the increase in the cost of living since the Armistice; whether he can say to what extent this is attributable to speculators or profiteers dealing in articles which have been released from control; will he consider the desirability of at once resuming control and regulating the maximum price to be paid for all the standard articles of food and for such others where he is satisfied that the public are being exploited, and take steps to prosecute all persons who may be found to be profiteering or holding up supplies for the purpose of obtaining excessive profits?


Since the Armistice the cost of living, so far as the average cost of essential foodstuffs is concerned, has materially decreased, according to the Returns furnished by the Ministry of Labour. It is true there have been rises in the ease of certain foodstuffs which are in part attributable to speculation by persons having no legitimate connection with the trade in those foodstuffs. Steps have already been taken by the Food Con- troller to check these practices. In the case of oils and fats, for example, he made the Seeds, Oils, and Fats Order, dated 19th June, 1919, under which it is illegal for any person to deal in certain specified seeds, oils, and fats unless he has been licensed by the Food Controller for that purpose. Licences will only be issued to legitimate shippers, merchants, brokers, dealers, and consumers. The Food Controller will not hesitate to reimpose control where there is evidence of profiteering in standard articles of food.