22 DECEMBER 1939, Page 3

A Check on Profiteering

The announcement that the first order under the Price of Goods Act (more popularly, the Anti-Profiteering Act) has been issued is welcome, for both practical and psycho- logical reasons. It is bad that purchasers should be charged more than rises in the cost of production justify ; it is equally bad, perhaps worse, that warranted or unwarranted suspicions of profiteering should create bad blood and disturb general harmony at a moment when the maintenance of general harmony is the nation's first need. What is called profiteering is difficult to regulate. Nothing better than rough-and-ready methods are practicable. The method chosen in this case is to announce the pre-war price of a number of articles and make it an offence to sell now at more than that figure plus a reasonable addition representing the actual rise in costs and expenses. The question, of course, is, what is to be considered a reasonable addition. No rule is laid down regarding that, and it is left for pur- chasers who consider they have been overcharged to make their complaints to the local Food Regulation Committee, which will take proceedings where they think necessary. It is of the first importance to check a rise in retail prices so far as possible. The best of all ways is for each family to try to keep its expenditure as near as possible to the pre- war level, both by dispensing with luxuries and by substitu- tions, e.g. of margarine for butter, even though an increase of wages might make a larger family budget possible.