§ 54 and 55. Mr. Thornton-Kemsley
asked the Minister of Food (1) in how many towns in Great Britain retail greengrocers are called on by his officials to find out what prices are being charged; how many shops in each town are visited; how often such visits are made; on what basis the towns are selected; and how many officials are employed directly on this work, and how many on collating and typing the information secured in this way;
(2) in how many towns in Great Britain retail fishmongers are called on by his officials to find out what prices are being charged; how many shops in each town are visited; how often such visits are made; on what basis the towns are selected; how many officials are employed directly on this work, and how many on collating and typing the information secured in this way; and why this new investigation has been instituted at a time when the price of fish has been decontrolled.
§ Mr. F. Willey
Fish prices are collected weekly in 165 towns and cover 1,080 shops in all. No officers are employed full time on this work, but the equivalent of 13 officers are engaged on collecting, collating and typing. The corresponding figures for fruit and vegetables are 170 towns, 1,240 shops and 18 officers. Towns have been selected so as to give as representative a picture as possible for the country as a whole. Although fish prices are no longer controlled, it is still our responsibility to watch the position to see whether supplies are available at prices the consumer can afford. This information is also needed for statistical purposes.
§ Mr. Thornton-Kemsley
Does the Parliamentary Secretary realise that vegetables have been off control for three years, and that for four years his officers have been going to shops in all these different towns filling in two pages of questions which have been sent on to the statistical department at the Carlton Hotel, London? Can he say what use is made of all this data they obtain?
§ Mr. Willey
Considerable use is being made of it, as I have already indicated. The question of fruit and vegetables is a matter which is now under very serious review.
§ Mrs. Jean Mann
Will my hon. Friend in no circumstances allow himself to be intimidated by questions such as these from Members opposite?
§ Mr. H. Strauss
Did I understand the Parliamentary Secretary to say "the equivalent of 13 officers"? If so, what did he mean?