HC Deb 15 May 1919 vol 115 cc1779-80W

asked the Food Controller whether the Government holds large stocks of rice on which, at the present price charged to the British consumer, the Government is making a profit of from £5 to £10 per ton; whether, just prior to the end of the period during which Mr. Hoover had guaranteed a minimum price for bacon, the Food Controller had a stock worth, approximately, £30,000,000 either in this country or on the way, and that in order to get rid of it he had to sell a considerable quantity of it to Holland and Germany; does he propose to take any action to remedy the complaints of the Australian and New Zealand importers that under existing arrangements they are not allotted a fair share in the distribution of the meat which is at the disposal of the Ministry; and, if so, whether the Ministry will consent to allow the Australian and New Zealand importers, to handle their own meat and thus keep their business connections alive instead of, as at present, having it handled by American and other companies, thus jeopardising the Australian and New Zealand trade connections, while the American interests are in no such danger?


The Royal Commission on the Wheat Supplies hold about six months' stock of Burma rice, the purchase price of which has not yet been fixed pending examination by the Government auditors of the rice millers' manufacturing costs. On the basis of the present selling price of the Royal Commission, namely, £25 per ton c.i.f., the profit would be very considerably less than that stated by the hon. and gallant Member, and would be at the rate of rather over £2 per ton. It should be stated, however, that the export of Burma rice of the present crop is prohibited by the Government of India and the current purchase price for rice from other countries is approximately £40 per ton c.i.f.

As regards the second part of the question, the value of the stocks of bacon owned by the Department at the time in question was £15,000,000. It is not the case that sales were made to Holland or Germany to get rid of those stocks. The sale to Holland was made early in January, and that to Germany was replaced by further purchases of bacon in America. As regards the last part of the question, it is not a fact that under the existing arrangements Australian and New Zealand importers do not receive for distribution a fair share of the meat which is at the Ministry's disposal. These importers handle all their own meat which is not required for Army purposes, and, so far as I am aware, no Australian or New Zealand meat is being handled by American or other companies. If the hon. and gallant Member will give me any instance of Australian or New Zealand meat which is being placed with American companies for distribution, I will have immediate inquiries made.

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