HC Deb 15 September 1939 vol 351 cc892-3
10. Mr. Mander

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he will consider the advisability of introducing legislation to provide for an investigation being made into alleged cases of profiteering?

9. Captain Plugge

asked the President of the Board of Trade how many specific allegations of profiteering have yet been brought to his notice; whether he will state their nature; and what action has been taken in each case?

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade (Major Lloyd George)

I am not certain what my hon. and gallant Friend means by specific allegations. The Board of Trade are aware of a number of present or prospective increases of manufacturers' prices in the staple trades, and inquiry is being made into these. The Board have expressed the general view that increases of price are only justified at the present juncture where they are directly related to increases of cost. There have also been various suggestions of profiteering by individual retailers. Where these appear to be substantial, inquiries are being made. In the light of these inquiries, my right hon. Friend will consider whether legislation is necessary.

Mr. Mander

Can the hon. and gallant Gentleman say how many complaints have been received up to date?

Major Lloyd George

A few complaints have been received, and inquiry is being made into these at the present moment.

Mr. Shinwell

When the hon. and gallant Gentleman speaks of "a few," can he give any indication of the number?

Major Lloyd George

It depends upon what you mean by "a few." May I say "not many"?

Mr. James Griffiths

Has the hon. and gallant Gentleman's attention been called to the practice which is being followed by some firms of putting some articles on a kind of list and indicating that customers will only be able to get supplies of them if they buy 5s. or 10s. worth of other goods, and is he satisfied that the Department have power to stop that pernicious practice?

Major Lloyd George

That is outside my Department. I have only seen it in the Press generally, but it has not been brought to my notice. I would observe that questions have been put to me about profiteering and that they are being inquired into.

Mr. Shinwell

Among the complaints which the hon. and gallant Gentleman's Department has received, have there been any complaints about the excessive price of sandbags and torches?

Major Lloyd George

Not officially, but privately. I think sandbags have been mentioned, but I am not sure about torches. Bicycles also have been mentioned, and inquiries are being made into the matter at this moment.

Mr. J. Griffiths

Will the hon. and gallant Gentleman take an early opportunity of consulting the Department concerned and issue a statement that they regard the practice to which I have referred as being pernicious and one that ought to be stopped?

Major Lloyd George

I will certainly bring it to the attention of the Department, but this is the first time it has been brought to my attention.

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