HC Deb 06 December 1920 vol 135 cc1762-3W

asked the Minister of Food whether, as the price for crystallised refined sugar to be paid by manufacturers was fixed monthly in advance at what was regarded as the world's price, although at the same period the same sugar was being distributed to the public for some time at 48s. per cwt. less cost, consideration will be given to recompense such manufacturers on the sugar contained in their manufactured stocks of seasonable goods and on their stocks of sugar held by them at the dates of the official reductions in price, or is the loss to be borne by those manufacturers who were compelled to use the only sugar they could obtain in the seasonable production, the retail price of which cannot possibly be reduced without severe loss and which the public will not purchase because of the announcement of reduced retail prices for sugar to 10d. per lb. from 1s. 2d. per lb.; whether very little sugar at the reduced price is being bought by manufacturers owing to their inability to sell their stocks produced at much higher prices with the only sugar available, whilst foreign manufacturers can compete with goods produced with free sugar at much lower prices; and whether, seeing that this competition is responsible for reduced production in Great Britain and unemployment during the winter months, consideration will be given for the immediate removal of all restrictions on manufacturers to buy and import whatever sugar they need in their industries, irrespective of any continued control of prices for retail distribution and consumption?


In reply to the first part of the question, I would point out that manufacturers were allowed to retain profits accruing through the long-continued rise in sugar values, and I cannot therefore admit the validity of a claim to compensation on account of the fall. As regards the second part, manufacturers' purchases are at present small; but I have no information as to the relative book values of stocks held by home and foreign manufacturers, respectively. I cannot add anything to replies already given regarding the third part of the question.