Convictions for Profiteering.

Oral Answers to Questions — Food Supplies. – in the House of Commons on 8th July 1919.

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Photo of Mr Rei Carter Mr Rei Carter , Manchester, Withington

80.

asked the Food Controller in how many instances the Ministry of Food has taken action under the Defence of the Realm (Food Profits) Act, 1918, against food traders convicted of illegal profiteering, and with what results?

Photo of Mr Charles McCurdy Mr Charles McCurdy , Northampton

I understand that proceedings under this Act have been successfully taken in one instance in Ireland. Proceedings are now being instituted in one case in this country.

Photo of Mr Rei Carter Mr Rei Carter , Manchester, Withington

Why have so few cases been proceeded with?

Photo of Mr Charles McCurdy Mr Charles McCurdy , Northampton

In cases of illegal profiteering it is open to the Ministry of Food either to institute proceedings under the Food (Profits) Act, 1913, or to institute summary proceedings for breaches of the Regulations, and so long as substantial penalties are imposed by magistrates in respect of summary proceedings there is no object in initiating the more expensive and elaborate proceedings under the older Act. Very numerous cases have been brought before the Committee, and substantial penalties have been recovered.

Photo of Mr Rei Carter Mr Rei Carter , Manchester, Withington

81.

asked the Food Controller whether, since December last, the Manchester local food committee has been unsuccessfully urging the Ministry of Food to take immediate proceedings under the Defence of the Realm (Food Profits) Act, 1918, against a Manchester firm which has been convicted on several occasions for illegal profiteering; whether he is aware that, owing to the dilatory action of the Ministry, the Manchester Committee has refrained from sending a considerable number of similar cases; and what steps he proposes to take to inquire into the efficiency of the staff engaged in this section of the Ministry?

Photo of Mr Charles McCurdy Mr Charles McCurdy , Northampton

Proceedings under the Defence of the Realm (Food Profits) Act, 1918, have now been filed in the matter to which the hon. Member presumably refers. Having regard to all the circumstances of the case, I am not of opinion that there has been any avoidable delay.

Photo of Mr Rei Carter Mr Rei Carter , Manchester, Withington

May I ask my hon. Friend whether he is aware that this very matter has been before his Department since last December, and that on one occasion, in May, it was said that the reason for the delay in dealing with it was the prevalence of influenza among the officials? Is the hon. Gentleman also aware that as late as June last the answer was that the delay was owing to illness in the legal department? I think the House will be very glad to hear if at the present time these legal gentlemen are convalescent, in view of the long time taken—

Photo of Mr James Lowther Mr James Lowther , Penrith and Cockermouth

The hon. Member is not entitled to comment on his question.