HC Deb 31 March 1958 vol 585 cc824-5
7. Mr. Osborne

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, in view of the fact that food import prices have fallen from 101 in 1957 to 93 in February, 1958, which foods have shown the biggest drop in retail prices; and by how much.

Mr. John Hare

From trade quotations available to me, the biggest reductions in retail prices over the last twelve months, resulting from lower import costs, have been between 9d. and 1s. per lb. for cheese, about 8d. per lb. for tea and about 1½d. per lb. for sugar.

Mr. Osborne

Is my right hon. Friend satisfied that the reduction in prices which farmers are getting for some of their products has been adequately represented in retail prices in the shops?

Mr. Hare

I am giving constant attention to this, but I think that hon. Members might bear in mind the fact that wage rates have risen over 5 per cent. during the last twelve months, and the cost of fuel for industry has also risen in price by about 6 per cent. There are additional costs, such as transport, all of which have to be taken into account when we are considering distribution costs.

Mr. Jay

How does the Minister explain the fact that over the year import prices for food have gone down, retail prices have gone up, and yet the subsidies have increased?

Mr. Hare

No, that is not true. I think the fact that retail prices have not gone down is chiefly because of the high cost of certain things, such as potatoes, because of a shortage, and also of certain horticultural products.

Mr. Willey

Would not the Minister agree with my right hon. Friend that over the year the Interim Index of Retail Food Prices has gone up, although import prices have fallen recently?

Mr. Hare

It is important to get this matter clear. The hon. Member's Question related to food and not to retail prices in general.