HC Deb 20 January 1953 vol 510 cc3-4
2. Miss Burton

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer the increase since 1st April, 1952, per person per week, in the cost of rationed foods to the latest convenient date.

Mr. R. A. Butler

For all rationed and subsidised foods, the latest estimate is slightly below the estimate of ls. 6d. which I gave in my Budget statement. This includes the increase in the prices of bread and flour made on 16th March, 1952.

Miss Burton

Is the Chancellor aware that many of us are wondering if it is the intention of the Government to make these increases as high as possible so that people cannot take up their ration? [HON. MEMBERS: "0h."] It 1S no use hon. Members opposite groaning. Does the Chancellor know that gammon bacon is being de-rationed because people cannot afford to buy their share? Is the Tory policy better bacon for the well-off and the poorer quality for the less well-off?

Mr. Butler

No, Sir. As the hon. Lady will see from an answer which is to be given later, there has been a much smaller gap between the types of food bought by different sections of the population, and I welcome that. With regard to detailed points about rations, I would refer the hon. Lady to my right hon. and gallant Friend the Minister of Food.

Mr. Jay

In view of the series of price and wage increases since the Chancellor followed his policy and the injurious effects of that on production and exports, cannot the right hon. Gentleman at least give us an assurance that the Government will not repeat this disastrous experiment this year?

Mr. Butler

I would not accept that this experiment has been disastrous. I would accept that a great deal of public money has been saved and that, considering the sacrifice involved, the public have accepted this in a remarkably good spirit.

Mr. Osborne

Would the Chancellor of the Exchequer confirm the fact that the sharpest rise in the cost of living occurred immediately after the £ was devalued by Sir Stafford Cripps in 1949?