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Cotton And Woollen Goods (Prices)

Volume 122: debated on Tuesday 2 December 1919

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asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether his attention has been called to the high retail prices of cotton and woollen goods and to the large profits now being made by manufacturers; whether these high retail prices are due mainly to foreign demand; and, if so, whether, as in the case of coal, it is possible, as a temporary measure until more normal times, to reduce the home retail price as compared with the foreign price?

I have been asked to reply. I am aware of the high retail prices of cotton and woollen goods. The present high prices are mainly due to the high price of raw material and a general increase in the cost oi production, and the foreign demand has probably only a secondary importance. The adoption of the proposal contained in the last part of the question would involve the re-establishment of a large measure of control, and my right hon. Friend is not inclined to recommend such a step. We are, however, at the present time investigating the question of profits in the industries referred to through machinery established under the Profiteering Act, and so soon as we know the facts we shall be in a position to decide what action can usefully be taken.

Can the hon. Gentleman give any indication as to when the Report of the Profiteering Committee is likely to be available?