§ 69. Mr. PERCY HARRIS (Leicester, Harborough)
asked the President of the Board of Trade what powers he has to prevent the holding up of foodstuffs; whether he has any official information showing that quantities of bacon have been stored at the docks for the purpose of increasing prices; and whether he proposes to take action to prevent the withholding of the necessaries of life in war time?
Under the Articles of Commerce (Returns, etc.) Act, 1914, the Board of Trade have power, if they are of opinion that any article of commerce is being unreasonably withheld from the market, to take possession of any supplies of the article, paying the owners of the supplies such price as may, in default of agreement, be decided to be reasonable, having regard to all the circumstances of the case, by the arbitration of certain judges specified in the Act and in the Proclamation made thereunder. With regard to the second part of the question, I would refer the hon. Gentleman to the reply which I gave yesterday to a similar question by the hon. Member for West Ham.
§ Mr. W. THORNE
In view of the information which is placed at his disposal as to the tremendous amount of bacon which is held up in the London docks and in the Liverpool docks, will the right hon. Gentleman make inquiries, and if he finds an excess of bacon, which should not be there, will he make the American Beef Trust unload it and put it upon the market?
§ 70. Mr. HARRIS
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he can publish a statement of the advances in wholesale prices in the principal articles of food since July, 1914, and at the same time make a statement of the cause of such increases, so that there should be a more general understanding of the economic factors that are influencing the supply and price of food?
The Board of Trade have recently appointed a Committee to deal with the whole question of prices of necessaries, and it is very undesirable to prejudge the results of its investigation.
§ Mr. HARRIS
Will it be possible for the Committee to issue an early Report on these special points that would allay public unrest?
48. Sir GILBERT PARKER
asked the Prime Minister whether a Government Committee has been appointed to deal with food prices; if so, whether co-operative societies are represented upon the Committee, and by whom; and whether he will consider the possibility of appointing a representative, or representatives, of private traders such as the Federation of Grocers' Associations of the United Kingdom?
The Prime Minister has asked me to reply to this question. I am afraid I can add nothing to the reply which I gave on Monday to questions asked on this subject by various hon. Members.