HC Deb 02 June 1954 vol 528 cc1269-70
30. Mr. Willey

asked the Minister of Food whether, in view of the announcement of further increases in the price of tea, he will reintroduce the price control of tea.

Dr. Hill

No, Sir.

Mr. Willey

Does the hon. Gentleman appreciate that we have already had three price increases this year and that another price increase is in prospect while at the same time there has been an exceptional profit level for the tea trade? In view of this, would not he accept that there is a burden upon the Department to intervene?

Dr. Hill

Price control at its present level would obviously not serve the hon. Gentleman's purpose. Price control at a lower level would mean a shortage of tea. To return to the position as it stood before the removal of the subsidy would mean, bearing in mind the increased consumption, a subsidy of £50 million, which would be equivalent to 3d. on the Income Tax.

Mr. Hamilton

Will the hon. Gentleman make representations to the tea companies to see if they will pass on some of their increased dividends to the old-age pensioners?

Dr. Hill

It is only fair to the tea companies to say that the increase in retail prices has not been ahead of, and indeed has not gone as far as the increase in auction prices.

Mr. Arbuthnot

Does my hon. Friend agree that one of the factors in this matter is the increase in wages which has taken place in south India, and that the proposals put forward by hon. Gentlemen opposite would do the workers of that industry out of these increases in wages?

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