Page:Britain's Deadly Peril.djvu/42

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national crisis a heaven-sent opportunity of increasing their gains at the expense of the suffering millions of the poor. It is quite evident, to my mind, that something of the kind is going on to-day, as it has gone on in every great war in history. The magnates of Mark Lane and the bulls of the Chicago wheat pit care nothing for the miseries of the unknown and unheeded millions whose daily bread may be shortened by their financial jugglings. They are out to make money. It may be true, as Mr. Asquith said, that we cannot control the price of wheat in America. But, at least, it cannot be said that the price of bread to-day is due to shortage of supply. During the last six months of 1914, as compared with the last six months of 1913, there was actually a rise of 112,250 tons in the quantities of wheat, flour, and other grain equivalent imported into this country. Where, then, can be the shortage, and what explanation is there of the prevailing high prices except the fact that large quantities of food are being deliberately held off the market in order that the price may he artificially enhanced? This is not the work of the small men, but of the big firms who can buy largely enough, probably in combination, to control and dominate the market.

When the subject was recently debated in the House of Commons the voice of the Labour member was heard unmistakably. Mr. Toothill said bluntly that if it was impossible for the Government to prevent the prices of food being "forced up" unduly, then it remained for Labour members to request employers to meet the situation by an adequate advance in wages. That request has since been made in unmistakable terms. Mr. Clynes was even more emphatic. "Though the Labour party were