§ Mr. Thorne
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he can give the 1097W House any information about the recent increase in prices of the following commodities, sugar, soap and coal; if he is aware that there is growing disquiet in the country about the increase in the retail prices of these goods without any explanation; if he can give the cause of the increase; and what steps are being taken to prevent unwarranted attempts to increase prices?
§ Dr. Burgin
Following an increase in world prices, wholesale sugar prices in this country have tended to rise somewhat in the last few months and there have been slight increases in retail prices. With regard to soap, I am aware that there has been an increase in price which I am informed was due to an increase in the world price of raw materials, such as oils and fats.
As regards coal, the increase in price is attributable, to some extent, to the greatly increased demand for coal as a result of general trade recovery in recent months, but it will be within the recollection of the House that District Selling Schemes were introduced last year in the coal industry with a view to eliminating cut-throat competition and thereby improving the proceeds of the industry, thus enabling the wages of mineworkers to be raised. The Coal Mines Act of 1930, under which the schemes operate, contains provisions for the protection of consumers.