Prosecutions

Oral Answers to Questions — Trade and Commerce – in the House of Commons on 8th September 1942.

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Mr. Graham White:

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he can make a statement on the work and progress of his enforcement department?

Photo of Mr Hugh Dalton Mr Hugh Dalton , Bishop Auckland

There have been 772 prosecutions under the rationing and Limitation of Supply Orders administered by my Department and fines totalling £560,000 have been imposed together with prison sentences totalling 52 years. Since 1st April, 1942, there have been 368 prosecutions, and fines have totalled £331,000. The work of enforcement of the Consumer Rationing Orders has been placed in the charge of ex-Superintendent Yandell of the Metropolitan Police, who was appointed Chief Enforcement Officer on 1st June, 1942. A number of experienced ex-police officers have been appointed to Mr. Yandell's staff.

Mr. White:

While appreciating that the answer of my right hon. Friend shows that there have been very substantial activities, may I ask whether he is proposing to dispense with this enforcement Department and to depend wholly upon the activities of the police to deal with these cases?

Photo of Mr Hugh Dalton Mr Hugh Dalton , Bishop Auckland

No, Sir, it is my duty to be responsible, in consultation, of course, with the police and other Departments, for enforcing the law against black marketeers for whom, I am sure, there is very little sympathy.

Mr. White:

May I ask whether in the meantime all these officials have been instructed that they must obey police rules and not act in any way as agents provocateur?

Photo of Mr Hugh Dalton Mr Hugh Dalton , Bishop Auckland

Yes, and in view of certain statements which have appeared in the Press I am very glad to give the House a very definite assurance on that subject. Perhaps I may read a sentence from instructions issued by my Department: Extreme care must be exercised at all times by the Board's enforcement officers to avoid provocation or any activity which might be construed as provocation. In general, enforcement officers making these purchases"— which are necessary— should not hold any conversation with the trader regarding coupons and should not say anything calculated to arouse the trader's sympathy. When a shop is visited the enforcement officer should avoid as far as possible making purchases from young and inexperienced assistants. Those orders have been issued to all my officers.

Photo of Mr Rhys Davies Mr Rhys Davies , Westhoughton

Who gets the large sums of money, totalling hundreds of thousands of pounds, represented by the fines referred to?

Photo of Mr Hugh Dalton Mr Hugh Dalton , Bishop Auckland

It all finds its way in the long run to my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer.