asked the Minister of Food if he is aware of the loss retailers have been subjected to because of insufficient warning when revising prices; and if he will give a longer intimation to retailers in future so as to protect them from unnecessary losses in realisation of stocks, as was experienced on stocks of flour and sugar just recently?
§ Mr. RONALD McNEILL
asked the Minister of Food if he is aware that retail traders, who are often obliged to hold considerable stocks, have been put to inconvenience and loss by fluctuations in price caused by reductions in controlled prices, or the removal of control, without adequate notice to the public; whether he will arrange that when conditions permit of decontrol, or reduction of control prices, the policy to be adopted shall be discussed with the trade concerned, and if possible an agreement arrived at, before any public announcement of the proposed change is made; and whether in future, when any such change is contemplated, he will give as long notice as possible to the trade concerned?
§ Sir W. MITCHELL-THOMSON
The Ministry of Food is anxious to avoid any hardship to the retail trades to whom in the past the Ministry looked not unsuccessfully for assistance in administering various measures of control. With violent fluctuations in world prices it is impossible to adopt the suggestions of the hon. Members, but where a large reduc- 2131W tion in the retail price might cause hardship to the retailer, as in the recent reduction of wholesale flour prices, the Ministry of Food has called the attention of the public to this fact and the allowance of time for the realisation of retail stocks has received its approval. The case of sugar is peculiar owing to the remarkable rise in prices from the pre-War price of 2½d. to 1s. 2d. per 1b. during which retailers were allowed to profit upon stocks held at the dates of the various increases. It is only fair that they should now be prepared to face the risks of a falling market.