[To the Editor of TIIE SPECTATOR.] S1R,—Lord Cranworth's eagerness to
defend the Beet Sugar Subsidy leads him to adopt one argument which is really too good to be passed without comment. He claims that if the home sugar industry had not been in existence the price would not be at its present low figure of 21d. A rise of Id. per lb. in the price of sugar, he says, would cost con- sumers £20,000,000 per annum. It would be interesting to hear on what ground he makes this claim. The output of the British sugar industry represents about 2 per cent. of the world output. The increase of a Id. represents almost a 50 per cent, rise in the price. Lord Cranworth really asks us to believe that the withdrawal of an industry repre- senting 2 per cent, of the world output will have a 50 per cent. effect on the price. Lord Cranworth is allowing his enthusiasm to carry him away. At a time when the world sugar market is already overstocked, it is highly improbable that the British industry has any effect on the price whatsoever. - Lord Cranworth's figures regarding the sums saved for the State owing to the operation of the subsidy are scarcely more persuasive. Beet sugar is grown on some of the best land in the country. If beet sugar were no longer planted, the land would not be put out of cultivation, but would probably he used for the cultivation of a really profitable crop. And of course Lord Cranworth has not taken into account the number of persons thrown out of employment in the export and shipping trades.
Mr. Stewart Cook also employs a somewhat extraordinary argument in attempting to prove that the Shipping industry has suffered no loss as a result of the subsidy. The figures he quotes comparing the sugar tonnage carried in 1920 and 1930 do not of course affect the issue. The 500,000 tons of sugar produced in Great Britain would otherwise have been imported and so represents a direct loss to British Shipping. It was natural that the total tonnage carried should have increased, since consumption has increased in the last ten years owing to the fall of prices. The Shipping industry has not gained, however, since freights have fallen almost as disastrously as prices.—Yours, &e., 25 Lanville Road, Liverpool, 19. A. F. STOKER.