[The Luton News: Thursday, September 4th, 1919]
The first meeting of the Luton Town Council after the vacation was held on Tuesday evening [September 2nd] at the Court House, and for the first time since the rioting the Mayor (Councillor Impey) presided. In opening the meeting he stated that it was his intention to continue in office until November, and then on medical advice to resign all public appointments.
The Council were invited by the Board of Trade to intimate their willingness to establish a local tribunal to deal with cases of alleged profiteering, when the regulations for the constitution and administration of such a tribunal were issued at a later date.
Councillor Bone opposed the establishment of such a tribunal. They were all down on profiteering, but he did not think they would be doing right in setting up such a committee. It would be a very cumbersome, expensive and difficult committee, and the town was now as cheap for nearly all things as any town in England.
The Food Committee recommended an open market for fruit, vegetables and fish, and with free competition in an open market they could go on very well without setting up a tribunal to deal with profiteering. Such a remedy [a tribunal] would be worse than the disease, even if there was a disease.
Councillor Bone hoped they would trust the traders. He thought they had dealt with the town very fairly and considerately in the past, and they should be thankful they got through the time of shortage in the very satisfactory way they had.
Councillor Barford said Councillor Bone was arguing on the lines that because there was no criminality there should be no police force or police court. Probably profiteering in Luton was limited, but the establishment of a tribunal would give people a certain amount of security which they did not feel at present.
It was agreed that a tribunal should be appointed later. The Discharged Sailors and Soldiers Association asked for seats to be allotted to two of their members in the event of a tribunal being established, and this application will be considered when the regulations for the constitution are received.
The Food Control Committee recommended the Council to authorise a daily market till October 31st, at the usual stallage charges.
Alderman Staddon said the Committee fully considered the profiteering question, and if ever there was an impossible Bill, he should think it was the Profiteering Bill. It would seriously interfere with the profits and work of one or two little traders instead of dealing with the things at the source – the big manufacturers and the supply of raw materials.
With reference to the market question, Alderman Staddon said the Committee were satisfied that in present circumstances the market should be used to its fullest capacity, and that this would tend to produce a uniformity of prices.
The Deputy Mayor (Councillor Dillingham) submitted that the Food Committee were behind the times, for the Tolls Committee got the Council to pass a resolution last April hat the market should be open, this being done after the Tradesmen's Association had sent a deputation to protest against stalls being allowed in the market and streets on other than authorised market days. If the shopkeepers were dissatisfied with he market being there, they could apply for stalls themselves.
Councillor Bone said the fruiterers and greengrocers of the Tradesmen's Association wanted stalls prohibited in the market and in the streets on days that were not market days – a very drastic measure to assist their own profiteering.
The Tolls Committee gave permission for a few stalls to be placed in the market, but they were fruit stalls. Now there was a growing demand for a larger measure, and for a full market as on other days. This would bring prices down, and it would be fairer all round.
Councillor Attwood said the present proposal went much further than the April resolution, which only referred to fruit and vegetables, and they were advised by the Town Clerk it was necessary to pass this resolution if they were to have a daily market where goods of all kinds could be sold.
The Town Clerk said the deputation in April complained of stalls with fruit and vegetables being allowed to stand in the market and streets, and wanted the Council to stop it. The Council declined to do so.
Now they were dealing with a communication from the Food Commissioner inviting them to deal with profiteering, and one way to deal with it would be to have an open market. The Food Committee recommended this, but the Council were the proprietors of the market rights, and it was for them to decide whether they would allow stalls to stand there or not.
If they decided to permit this, difficulties might arise. He would not mention what they were, but as the Council's legal adviser he was advising that to put the matter in proper order it was necessary to pass this resolution now.
The resolution was agreed to.