HC Deb 12 November 1951 vol 493 cc630-1
16. Mr. Albert Evans

asked the Minister of Food what action he proposes to take to prevent further rises in the prices of fish and rabbits.

23. Mr. R. Morley

asked the Minister of Food his policy for the control of the price of fish and rabbits.

Major Lloyd George

Both fish and rabbits are subject to seasonal influences, and supplies of fish to temporary fluctuations due to weather. There are well known difficulties in fixing maximum prices for either fish or rabbits. In any case, while recent gales reduced supplies of fish and caused a temporary rise in prices, supplies have since improved and prices have dropped back.

Mr. Evans

Is the right hon. and gallant Gentleman prepared, if the prices of these two foods rise again, to take immediate action? Are there any schemes in his Department ready to give effective control in the event of prices rising?

Major Lloyd George

The hon. Gentleman can rest assured that my Department has for some time been looking into this question, and that we should not be unready, if I may put it that way. It is a very difficult question indeed. It has often happened before that when controls are made, particularly in the case of rabbits, the rabbits just disappear in certain areas; in fact, they go underground.

Mr. Hector Hughes

Does the right hon. Gentleman realise that the price of fish from northern ports is greatly influenced by the high cost of freight, and will he look into that, in conjunction with transport?

Major Lloyd George

My answer to the hon. and learned Gentleman's previous Questions bears on that.

Mr. Desmond Donnelly

Can the Minister say whether the White Fish Authority hope to have some definite proposals ready for his Ministry with regard to the sale of fish?

Major Lloyd George

I cannot now; I will make inquiries.

Mr. Arthur Lewis

Is the Minister aware that the war-time price control of fish worked very well, and will he, therefore, not consider the introduction of price control of fish, in view of the fact that it has worked well?

Major Lloyd George

It is not altogether as easy as that, as anyone who has held this office knows. It is an extremely difficult question and one of the things we will have to examine in the light of events.