§ 80. Mr. ANDERSON
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether his attention has been directed to the effect on freight markets of shipments of American wheat to this country from United States of America Atlantic ports; whether he is aware that on a load of wheat (214 tons) the freight alone is £660 and will soon be £700 as compared with £60 before the War; whether he is aware that freights from the Argentine now stand at 72s. 6d. per ton, being 5s. more than the heavy freights of last winter and an advance of nearly 500 per cent, on prewar freightage; whether he was approached on the occasion of his recent visit to Liverpool by members of the Corn Exchange, who urged the fixing of maximum freights; and, in view of the certainty of further increases, what action, if any, the Government intend to take?
This subject, amongst others, was mentioned to me by one or two corn merchants when I visited the Liverpool Corn Exchange on the 8th of October, but I was unable to discover any support there for the fixing of maximum prices for wheat sold by these gentlemen. The whole question of ocean freights is closely engaging the attention of the Government. There are grave difficulties in the way of State interference with the freight market, for which the Government is anxiously endeavouring to find solutions which will not do more harm than good.
§ Mr. HOUSTON
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the increase in freights is mainly due to the large number of ships requisitioned by the Transport Department of the Admiralty, and that many of them have been kept lying idle for lengthy periods; and will he make representations to the Admiralty to release ships that are not urgently wanted? Further—