§ 14. Mr. Lipton
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether he will introduce regulations to limit the moisture content of bread.
I will consider the hon. Member's suggestion when I receive the relevant Report of the Food Standards Committee.
§ Mr. Lipton
May I ask the Minister why he must wait until the Report is published? Is he not aware that the steaming of bread instead of honestly baking it means that the loaf contains 12½ per cent. more water, which only represents weight? In view of the complimentary remarks which the right hon. Gentleman made a moment ago about the people of Dorset, will he be impressed if I send him a letter from the Dorset County Master Bakers' Association, which confirms the statement which I have made?
I am always impressed one way or the other when I get a letter from the hon. Gentleman, but I would say that the information available certainly would not justify me in taking any action in this matter in advance of recommendations from the Committee.
18. Mr. Wiley
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether 1278 he will institute a costings inquiry into the price of bread.
§ Mr. Willey
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that, when the price of flour went up by 2s. a sack, the price of bread made from that flour went up by 18s., and that whereas recently the price of flour has gone down by 5s. a sack, there has been no decrease in the price of bread? In these circumstances, does he not think that there is a duty placed upon him to hold a costings inquiry?
No, Sir. Of course, there are other costs, apart from flour, in bread-making. [HON. MEMBERS: "Water."] Apart from water, too. But I am satisfied that there is plenty of competition in this trade, and I am quite sure that the competition is sufficient to bring the price down just as soon as the position in regard to current costs enables that to happen.
Is not the Minister aware that the reason which the bakers gave for putting up the price of bread was the increase in the price of flour, and that the same thing goes on time and time again? Surely, if because of the increased price of flour the price of bread goes up, the Minister, whose object is to see that the cost of living is kept within reason, has some concern to see that if the price of flour comes down, the price of bread should also come down? Would he not inquire into it?
Yes. but the difference between us is on the best way of bringing that about, and I am satisfied that competition is the best way of ensuring reasonable prices.
§ Mr. Willey
Is not the Minister aware that it is believed that there is not sufficient competition in this industry, and that it would satisfy us all if we knew the facts, and that he himself has the means of presenting those facts to us?