HC Deb 24 May 1954 vol 528 cc4-6
9. Lieut.-Colonel Lipton

asked the Minister of Food the present difference per lb. between the purchase and retail prices of butter imported by his Department under bulk-purchase or long-term agreements with New Zealand, Australia and Denmark.

13. Mr. Willey

asked the Minister of Food what profit his Department is making on the sale of butter.

Major Lloyd George

It would be misleading and contrary to sound commercial policy to attempt to disclose day-to-day trading results.

Lieut.-Colonel Lipton

Is not the Minister aware that, without losing any money, or without any cost to public funds, he could easily bring down the present selling price of butter, which is now between 4s. 2d. and 4s. 3d. a lb., and represents a considerable increase in the price of butter since it was decontrolled?

Major Lloyd George

Actually the price is running at from 4s. to 4s. 4d.: indeed, I have seen some at 3s. 8d.

Lieut.-Colonel Lipton


Major Lloyd George

I saw some last Saturday, in a shop. It had a label on it, "Special reduction, New Zealand, 3s. 8d." If the hon. and gallant Gentleman would like to know, I will give him the address afterwards—privately, to stop a rush. It is quite obvious, however, that as decontrol has been in operation for only 14 days or so, it is impossible to give any figure.

Mr. Willey

Whilst appreciating the diffidence of the right hon. and gallant Gentleman, would he agree that it would be wrong in present circumstances for his Department to make a profit and that, on the contrary, the Department ought to do all it can to hold the prices?

Major Lloyd George

Certainly, Sir, We are not anxious to make a profit, but we are not bound to make a loss either. Decontrol has only been in operation a fortnight and we must give it a little time to see what is the market position.

Mr. Gower

Is my right hon. and gallant Friend aware that London is not the only place where cheaper butter was offered for sale on Saturday? I also saw it on Saturday? Is the Minister also aware that, side by side with that butter, I also saw cheese offered—in Cardiff—at a reduction of about 4d. and also reduced prices for jam?

Mr. Shinwell

Would the Minister be good enough to give the names and addresses of these businesses in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Major Lloyd George

I think I had better confine myself to my offer to the hon. and gallant Member for Brixton (Lieut.-Colonel Lipton) to give him the name privately.

Mr. G. Jeger

Would the Minister explain why, if there are all these reductions in the price of food seen by his hon. Friend, the Minister of Labour tomorrow will have to explain an increase in the cost-of-living index?

Major Lloyd George

I was asked this Question about one item, and I gave the results of my own observations.

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