§ 47. Mr. Willey
asked the Minister of Food whether he has considered the recommendations of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions, which have been sent to him, about tea prices; and whether he will institute an inquiry along the lines suggested by the Confederation, and take steps to stabilise prices at a reasonable level.
§ The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food (Dr. Charles Hill)
My right hon. Friend has received no communication from the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions about tea prices, but the hon. Member was good enough to send me a note of their recommendations. As to the second part of the Question, I have nothing to add to the reply which my right hon. Friend gave to the hon. Member for Broxtowe (Mr. Warbey) on 21st February.
§ Mr. Willey
Is the Parliamentary Secretary aware that this is not good enough and that by recent events he has been thoroughly shown up? Action ought to have been taken about tea long ago. It is not too late to recant. Will the Minister seriously look at this problem and see that the housewife is protected and that at the same time we get stability in the tea trade?
§ Dr. Hill
Recent events, which show that the price of tea at auction has fallen by 1s. 2d. in Calcutta and 1s. 8d. in 949 London, that retail prices have fallen by between 4d. and 8d. per lb. and that the anticipated price increases have been dropped, seem to suggest that the consumer has done more than price control could ever do.
§ Mr. Braine
As the recommendations of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions refer to the wages of plantation workers,can my hon. Friend say how the wages of plantation workers in India and Ceylon today compare with pre-war rates?
§ Mr. Willey
Is the Parliamentary Secretary aware that before the recent price increases a few weeks ago, the daily rates in Ceylon were the same as at the time of decontrol?
§ Mr. Callaghan
Does that mean that the Parliamentary Secretary is telling the housewives that the price of tea will settle down at around 7s. per lb.?