HC Deb 09 December 1920 vol 135 cc2455-7W

asked the Prime Minister what would be the probable financial effect of the immediate decontrol of wheat upon the consumer, the producer, and the Exchequer, respectively?


I have been asked to reply. The policy to be pursued in the liquidation of existing stocks in relation to current world prices is being considered with regard to the important and differing interests which will be affected. The Government have not only to consider the conflicting interests of taxpayer and consumer; they have also to consider the position of the trades upon whom the responsibility for maintaining the nation's bread supply will fall. Until the details of policy are finally settled, it is impossible to make an estimate of its financial effects upon the different interests concerned.


asked the President of the Board of Trade what are the Govern- ment's wheat stocks at present; what would be the loss if these were sold at the current market rate; and how long it will be necessary to keep up the price artificially in order to avoid a loss?


I have been asked to reply. With regard to the first and second parts of the question, I would refer the hon. Member to the reply given on the 1st instant to the hon. Member for Eastbourne (Mr. Gwynne). The reply to the third part of the question depends upon the course of world prices, and to illustrate the difficulties I might point out that the landed price of No. 1 Northern Manitoba wheat recently rose as much as 15s. a quarter in 10 days. I can assure the hon. Member, however, that there is no desire on the part of the Government to keep up prices artificially, as is evidenced by the recent reduction of 4s. per sack in the selling price of flour.


asked the Minister of Food what is the present stock of wheat held by the Ministry of Food; what commitments have been entered into by the Wheat Commission; and whether the Commission are still buying?


The Wheat Commission is still buying wheat, and must continue to do so until satisfactory arrangements can be made for the transfer to private traders of the responsibility of assuring the bread supplies of the country. As already explained in answer to the hon. Member for Eastbourne (Mr. Gwynne) on 1st December, it is unwise, so long as purchasing continues, to make public announcements as to quantity and price.


asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture whether millers have been instructed by the Wheat Commission to, for the present, pay 95s. per quarter of 504 lbs. for wheat of fair milling quality; and, if so, will the Wheat Commission limit the issue of foreign wheat in order that farmers may have a market for their wheat?


I have been asked to reply. Millers have been directed by the Food Controller that they have authorisation to pay for home-grown wheat purchased on rail at producer's station, an average price not exceeding 95s. per 504 1bs. f.o.r., and an average of 96s. per 504 1bs. in respect of wheat delivered by road into the mill. Millers are offered every inducement to use the maximum quantity of home-grown wheat, but in most cases flour containing a large proportion of imported wheat is required by bakers and householders.

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