asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food why the Order giving maximum prices for home-produced apples which came into force on 26th December, 1940, fixed the maximum wholesale price at 50s. 2d. per cwt. from 20th January to 16th February, 1941, inclusive, and a later Order alters the maximum wholesale price up to and including 16th February, 1941, to 42s.; whether he is aware that such rapid alterations in price and during periods previously fixed is causing confusion in this trade; on whose advice such changes are made; and whether he will make an investigation into this matter with a view to greater stability in price and also quantity?
Major Lloyd George:
The figures quoted by my hon. Friend from the Apples (Home-produced) (Maximum Prices) Order (1940, No. 2121) and the amending Order (1941, No. 106) are not comparable, inasmuch as the former figure includes charges for carriage, while the latter is exclusive of such charges. The object of this amendment was to encourage the flow of apples to more distant markets. My Noble Friend is not aware that the amendment has caused any serious confusion in the trade. In answer to the latter part of the Question, the amendments were made by my Noble Friend after consultation with representatives of the trade, and he cannot agree that any useful purpose would be served by special investigation into this matter, but particulars of any disturbances with which my hon. Friend can furnish me will receive careful consideration.
Is the hon. and gallant Gentleman not aware of the disturbance that is caused by rapid alterations in prices in food markets, where traders who have bought goods forward at one price subsequently find that Orders have been issued fixing reduced prices, which means that they are faced with a heavy loss? Will he go into the matter to consider whether such rapid changes in controlled prices is not inclined to disorganise some of the trades?