§ 6. Miss Burton
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether he is aware that increases in the cost of foods essential to old people are causing hardship; and if, in an effort to reduce these prices, he will conduct an inquiry into the cost of distribution.
No, Sir. I do not think that an inquiry into the costs of distribution would be useful in present circumstances.
§ Miss Burton
Is the Minister aware that the cost-of-living index went up over the past year by 4½ per cent. and two-thirds of that was due to the rise in food prices? Does he not think it would be worth while—in view of the declaration of the Government that they are to bring down the cost of living—to investigate the cost of distribution to see if that would help?
I think the answer to that question is the answer I gave to the hon. Lady just now. I would certainly consider the advisability of an inquiry in any circumstances in which I felt such an inquiry would be useful, but over the whole field the matter is so varied that I think it would produce no useful results at all.
§ Miss Burton
By how much would the cost of living have to rise before the right hon. Gentleman would consider that such an inquiry could be useful?
I would consider such an inquiry regardless of whether the cost of living went up or not whenever I felt that useful results would accrue from it.