HC Deb 18 February 1953 vol 511 cc1222-3
15. Mr. Lewis

asked the Minister of Food if he is aware that the prices of 21 brands of tea, representative of the teas ordinarily bought by the bulk of consumers, is used in computing the interim index of retail prices; that, for these 21 brands, the average level of prices in mid-January, 1953, was about 16 per cent. higher than in January, 1952; and whether he will, therefore, re-introduce price control on tea.

Major Lloyd George

The increase arose from removal of subsidy last June. Since control ended in October, the average price has declined slightly, even though the public are buying a higher proportion in the better blends.

Mr. Lewis

Is the Minister aware that that directly contradicts the answer of the Minister of Labour to my hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey), which appeared in HANSARD of 5th February? The facts are that to meet—

Mr. Speaker

The hon. Gentleman is starting to state the facts. He ought to be asking for them.

Mr. Lewis

I started by saying "Is the Minister aware." I will put my question again. Is the Minister aware that that contradicts the answer given by the Minister of Labour to my hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland, North, contained in HANSARD of 5th February; and is it not a fact that all the prices of teas have gone up, and that it is only the very cheap brands, which are mainly dust, that people can now afford to take up?

Major Lloyd George

My answer does not contradict the statement of my right hon. and learned Friend at all, because the opening part of my answer was that the increase arose from the removal of subsidies last June.

Captain Pilkington

Does my right hon. and gallant Friend consider that there is any significance in the phrase in this Question—"the bulk of consumers"?

Mr. Remnant

Is the Minister aware that the sale of the lower-priced packets of tea is to be deprecated because the better qualities of tea go a great deal further?