Page:Britain's Deadly Peril.djvu/37

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CHAPTER II


THE PERIL OF EXPLOITING THE POOR


No phenomenon of the present serious situation is more remarkable, or of more urgent and vital concern to the nation, than the amazing rise in food prices which we have witnessed during the past six months. At a time when the British Navy dominates the trade routes, when the German mercantile flag has been swept from every ocean highway in the world, when the German "High Seas" fleet lies in shelter of the guns of the Kiel Canal fortifications, we have seen food prices steadily mounting, until to-day the purchasing power of the sovereign has declined to somewhere in the neighbourhood of fifteen shillings, as compared with the period immediately preceding the outbreak of hostilities.

Now this is a fact of the very gravest significance, and unless the price of food falls it will inevitably be the precursor of very serious events. Matters are moving so rapidly, at the time I write, that before these lines appear in print they may well be confirmed by the logic of events. Ominous mutterings are already heard, the spectre of labour troubles has raised its ugly head, and, unless some modus vivendi be found, it seems more than probable that we shall witness a very serious extension of the strikes which have already begun.

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