HC Deb 19 May 1965 vol 712 cc1442-3
21. Mr. Brewis

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether he will order an inquiry into the price structure of the dairy industry, including manufacturers' and retailers' margins and the dumping on the market of imported subsidised products.

Mr. Peart

The margins of milk distribution are already controlled by reference to costings investigations. The prices of milk for manufacture are negotiated by the milk marketing boards under their marketing schemes. Competition is keen and I see no prima facie ground for an enquiry in this field. The question of dumping is a matter for my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade.

Mr. Brewis

Is it not rather strange in these days of rising prices that distributors' increased costs are automatically recouped and that recoupment comes from the price which the producer receives? Does not this matter require to be looked at again?

Mr. Peart

As the hon. Member knows, an inquiry was conducted in 1962 resulting in the publication of the Thorold Report. As I have said, we watch the question of costing. Indeed, we have an arrangement whereby costings are examined carefully each year. I see no reason for action on the lines suggested by the hon. Member.

Mr. Emrys Hughes

Is it not strange that in all the demands for inquiry into increased costs, there is never any demand for inquiry into the reasons for the increases in farmers' rents?

Mr. George Y. Mackie

Does this mean that the Minister is in favour of the principle of a cost-plus basis of costing for the retail industry?

Mr. Peart

No, I did not say that. I have tried to show that with all the industries with which I have been connected, in the present circumstances there should be absorption of a percentage of increased costs.

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