HC Deb 16 March 1953 vol 512 cc1802-7
13. Mr. Lewis

asked the Minister of Food the price, per lb., of meat, cheese and bacon on 1st October, 1951, and at the latest convenient date; what the percentage increase in price of these commodities has been during this period; and what were the reasons for these increases.

Major Lloyd George

I will, with permission, circulate the figures in the OFFICIAL REPORT. As regards the last part of the Question, the greater part of the increases in bacon and cheese were needed in order to keep within the subsidy ceiling fixed by the late Administration. As regards the balance, I would refer the hon. Member to the statement made by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer in opening his last Budget.

Mr. Lewis

In support of my hon. Friend the Member for Goole (Mr. G. Jeger), may I ask the Minister whether or not he saw the promise in the Tory Election Manifesto saying that they would bring down the price of food? Is not it a fact that it has been substantiated that the price of every commodity has gone up and up and not one has come down since the present Government came into power?

Major Lloyd George

I do not know what the hon. Gentleman is getting at. His Question criticised me for actions for which I am in no way responsible. The ceiling of £410 million was fixed by the late Administration. They did not keep to it. They left us to find a way to bring the figure down to £410 million. They had not the courage to face up to the facts.

Mr. Lewis

Is the Minister aware that the Chancellor of the Exchequer said in his Budget speech that he was responsible

Commodity Unit Retail Price Percentage Increase
1st October, 1951 28th February,1953
lb. s. d. s. d.
Meat (average) 1 1 8 2 0 20
Cheese 1 1 2 2 286
Bacon (average) (excluding gammon) 1 2 7 3 10 48
15. Mr. Lewis

asked the Minister of Food the items of food which, on 1st October, 1951, were price-controlled by his Department; their respective prices; which of these have been de-controlled since this date; and the price of these controlled items at the latest convenient stated date.

Major Lloyd George

As the reply contains a number of figures, I will, with permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT. for increasing the price of these foodstuffs? Are we to take it that the right hon. and gallant Gentleman disagrees with the statement made by the Chancellor?

Major Lloyd George

The hon. Gentleman must look at his facts more carefully. He referred specifically to three items. The increases in those items were to meet liabilities which the late Administration incurred.

Mr. Willey

Is the Minister aware that he is such a muddler that he did not get within the limit and that, in any case, the Trades Union Congress advised him at the time that it would be the best course to allow the food subsidies to run rather over that limit, and that that is what we should have done if we had remained in office?

Major Lloyd George

The fact is that it was running at £430 million when the ceiling was fixed by the late Chancellor at £410 million. The hon. Gentleman and his colleagues had not the courage to face up to the position.

Following are the figures:

Mr. Lewis

Can the Minister tell us of any commodity or article of foodstuffs which has gone down in price since the Minister de-controlled it? Tea has gone up by 15 per cent. Could he give us any idea of the percentage increase that has taken place in those foods which have been de-controlled?

Major Lloyd George

I think the hon. Gentleman had better wait to see this rather long list.

Following is the reply:

The following table shows the maximum retail prices of the foods listed at 1st October, 1951, and in the case of foods still controlled, at 12th March, 1953. Where foods controlled at 1st October, 1951, are now free from price control the fact is stated.

Commodity Unit Maximum Retail Prices Remarks
at 1st October, 1951 at 12th March, 1953
Bacon lb. 2s. 7d. 3s. 10d.
(Weighted averages)
Bananas lb. ls. 0d. No longer controlled
Biscuits various No longer controlled
National Bread l¾lb. 6d. 7½d.
Butter lb. 2s. 6d. 3s. 0d.
Cheese (rationed) lb. ls. 2d. 2s. 2d.
Chocolate and Chocolate Confectionery various No longer controlled
Cocoa Powder lb. 3s. 2d. No longer controlled
Coffee (main types) lb. 4s. 2d. to 5s. 11d. No longer controlled
Compound Cooking Fat lb. ls. 4d. ls. 6d.
Condensed Milk (Canned) various various Increases of ld.–2d. per can, See relevant Orders (S.I. 1951 No. 1722 and S.I.1952No. 1068).
Cream (clotted) lb. 6s. 6d. 7s. 6d.
Dried Fruits various various No change in price between the two dates. Dried plumss prunes, dried apple, and dried pears are no longer controlled.
Dripping lb. ls. 4½d. ls. 4½d.
Eggs each 3d. to 5d. 3d. to 5d. The price range reflects differences in grades.
Fish (canned imported) Numerous types and sizes. various various No change in price between the two dates.
Flour (self-raising) 3 lb. ls. l¾d. ls. 6¼d.
Flour Confectionery various No longer controlled
Fruit (imported canned) Cans with contents varying from 11 oz.–100 oz. ls. 6d. to 8s. 6d. is. 6d. to 8s. 6d.
Lard lb. 1s. 4d. Is. 6d.
Margarine lb. is. 2d. ls. 4d.
Carcase Meat lb. ls. 8d. 2s. 0d.
(weighted averages)
Meat Products (except Canned Corned Meat). Numerous types and sizes. Various No longer Controlled
Canned Corned Meat lb. 2s. 4d. 3s. 0d.
Milk (ordinary) pint 5½d. 6½d.
Potatoes 7 lb. 1s. 0½d. ls. 3¼d. The prices of potatoes always show seasonal rises. The average price in March, 1952, was 1s. 2d. per 1b.
(weighted averages)
Rice (whole) lb. 10d. ls. 3d.
Semolina (pre-packed) lb. 9¼d. No longer controlled
Sugar (domestic granulated) lb. 6d. 7d.
Sugar Confectionery various No longer controlled
Syrup and Treacle lb. 10d. 10½d.
Tea (main types) lb. 3s. 4d. to 4s. 6d. No longer controlled
23. Mr. Gaitskell

asked the Minister of Food whether he will state the increases in the prices of the various foods necessitated by the reduction in subsidies; when they became effective; and how much saving was achieved in each case in the financial year 1952–53.

The price increases required to carry out the decision announced by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer to reduce the subsidy ceiling from £410 million per annum to £250 million were as follows:

Commodity Price increased during 1952–53 by Date of Operation Estimated Saving in 1952–53
Bacon 5d. per lb. (average 5th of all cuts except gammon). 5th October 15
Meat (carcase) 4d. per 1b. (average) 15th June 48
Milk (liquid) 1d. per quart 1st July 20
Butter 6d. per lb. 5th October 6
Cheese (rationed) 2d. per lb. 5th October 1
Margarine and Cooking Fat (domestic). 2d. per lb. 5th October 5
Sugar (domestic) 1d. per lb. 5th October 4
Tea 10d. a lb. (maximum) 15th June 13