HC Deb 05 May 1960 vol 622 cc1252-3
33. Mr. Willey

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether he will state the average retail prices for beef for the latest available date and for the corresponding date in 1951 and 1955.

Mr. Hare

No official retail prices for beef are available. But the latest available information from the National Food Survey gives the average price of beef and veal in the last quarter of 1959 as 4s. 1d. per lb. compared with 2s. 3d. and 3s. 7d. in the corresponding periods of 1951 and 1955 respectively.

Mr. Willey

I do not want the Minister to carry out too much research, but is he aware that present beef prices are quite outrageous? Is he aware that this is not only due to the question of supplies from the Argentine? While we have the taxpayer's support for beef production there is a responsibility upon the Minister to see that the taxpayer's wife does not have to pay these exorbitant prices.

Mr. Hare

It would not be wise for the hon. Member to follow up that point too far. Although I have quoted cheaper prices in respect of 1951, I must remind the House that the taxpayer was then paying £20 million in the form of subsidies, as opposed to £4 million at present. Again, it is unwise to try to make out that beef prices, or food prices in general, are unduly high. In spite of the extra cost, considering our whole food front, we are enjoying lower prices, which have helped to keep down the cost of living, as he knows.