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Wheat And Bread Prices

Volume 237: debated on Tuesday 25 March 1930

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asked the President of the Board of Trade if and when the reduction in the price of bread suggested by the Food Council is likely to become effective?

I understand that the price recommended for bread by the London associations of master bakers was reduced yesterday to 8d. per 4 lb., which is within the scale approved by the Food Council.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that bread has been sold recently in Liverpool at 2½d. per two-pound loaf, and can be give the House any information on that subject?

I could not do so without notice. I have answered the hon. Member's question which referred to the price of bread in London. If any more information is wanted, perhaps the hon. Member will put down a further question.

May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he thinks 8d. for a four-pound loaf is a fair price in present circumstances, in view of the low price of wheat?


asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he will give figures for any definite dates to show the extent to which variations in the price of wheat affect the retail price of bread?

With the hon. and gallant Member's consent, I will circulate in the OFFICIAL REPORT a table giving a comparison of the average values of imported wheat and of the price of bread in London, during a period before the War and a recent period, which will illustrate the relation between the prices of wheat and bread.

Is it not the fact that the price of wheat has varied by something like 17s. in the last eight months; and, if that be so, would it not be possible for the Government to put a duty of 10s. a quarter on foreign wheat without varying the price of bread to the consumer?

Will the right hon. Gentleman draw the attention of the Food Council to the disparity between the present price of wheat and the price of the loaf; and does he think that 8d. a loaf is a suitable and adequate price at the present time?

In reply to the second Supplementary Question, this matter is constantly before the Food Council, and, in fact, a question was asked upon it by an hon. Member opposite earlier to-day.

Is it not a fact that private enterprise supported by hon. Gentlemen opposite is responsible for the discrepancy between the price of wheat and of the loaf?

Following is the table:

Average value per cwt. of wheat imported into the United Kingdom.Average selling price of dread per 41bs. in London.

This statement shows that, during the 15 years preceding the War, while wheat was rising in price, bread was rising less rapidly; and that, in recent years, while bread has not been as cheap in relation to wheat as immediately prior to the War, it has not been as dear, in relation to wheat, as in the first of the three pre-war quinquennia. In making use of these comparisons, the fact that the bread prices relate to London only, while the wheat with which it is compared is the entire imported supply should be borne in mind.

Owing to differences in the proportions of wheat of various origins that contribute to the supply of bread in different localities and at different times, the prices for any specified grades of wheat may fail to provide a satisfactory measure of variations in the cost of the principal ingredient in bread, apart from changes in the cost of baking, of flour milling, and of distribution.