HC Deb 08 March 1951 vol 485 cc892-3

4.5 a.m.

Wing Commander Bullus (Wembley, North)

I beg to move, That an humble Address be presented to His Majesty, praying that the Order, dated 7th February, 1951, entitled the Candles (Maximum Prices) Order, 1951 (S.I. 1951, No 206), a copy of which was laid before this House on 8th February, be annulled. I apologise to you, Mr. Speaker, and to the House for rising to speak on two Orders in succession, but unfortunately one of my colleagues is absent and, as my name is second on the list, it falls to me to move the Motion. The Motion I am now proposing is on behalf of the harassed housewife—[Interruption.]Perhaps hon. Gentlemen opposite do not think that the housewife is harassed today.

Mr. Hamilton (Fife, West)

May I draw your attention, Mr. Speaker, to the fact that there are fewer than 25 Members, present on the benches opposite?

Mr. Speaker

That is not a point of order.

Wing Commander Bullus

I was suggesting that perhaps Members opposite do not think the housewife is harassed today. My hon. Friend the Member for Peterborough (Mr. Nicholls) spoke earlier of the rising prices of cotton, and here is another small increase, this time on candles. The housewife has to pay for these increases, and undoubtedly she is a very harassed woman. I suggest that candles have taken on an enhanced value in view of the recent electricity cuts. It is possible that there will be a scramble for candles because they are of especial value if at some peak hour the electricity is suddenly cut off. Therefore, I think it is wrong that this increase, however small, in price, which affects the housewife today, should go by default. The Government must accept responsibility for many of these increases which have been thrust on the housewives of the country in recent months. There seems to be no evidence that it will stop.

Sir Harold Roper (Cornwall, North)

I beg to second the Motion.

4.8 a.m.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade (Mr. Rhodes)

This Order came into operation on 14th February, and it raised the price of candles from 74s. 10d. a case of 72 pound to 77s. 9d., an increase of 2s. 11d. The maximum price a pound was raised by ½d., from Is. 2d. to Is. 2½d. It is a maximum price. It is due to an increase of £4 10s. in the price of scale wax from which candles are manufactured, the price of which is fixed by the Ministry of Fuel and Power. The distributors did not gain any additional profits from the increase in prices. For several years the prices have been varied only to reflect the corresponding changes in raw materials prices.

Mr. Nally (Bilston)

Before my hon. Friend sits down, would he care to explain why candles which are coloured or of a special shape and are on sale in Lewis's and other departmental stores, should because they are coloured or specially shaped, sell at prices ranging to 1s. 8d. a box?

Question put, and negatived.