HC Deb 15 May 1968 vol 764 cc1194-5
3. Mr. Judd

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what has been the level of food price increases in each of the first four months of 1968.

The Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Mr. Cledwyn Hughes)

There has been the normal seasonal rise in food prices, which this year has been accentuated by the effect of the foot-and-mouth epidemic on meat supplies and by devaluation.

Retail food prices rose in each of the first three months of this year as follows:

December, 1967 to January, 1968 0.8 per cent.
January to February 0.6 per cent.
February to March 0.2 per cent.

There is usually a steep rise between March and April, for seasonal reasons; but I expect the figure for this year, which will be available in about a week or so, to show much less of a rise than is usual.

Mr. Judd

Would my right hon. Friend say specifically how these figures compare with previous years, and can he assure the House that the Government will deal increasingly firmly with unpatriotic elements in the business community that hold the country to ransom in this respect?

Mr. Hughes

We are watching food prices very carefully indeed. As to previous years, I can tell my hon. Friend that the increase in each of the last four years has been lower, on the whole, than in the preceding three years under the previous Government.

Mr. Godber

Has the right hon. Gentleman not forgotten one item in the list that he has given? Has he forgotten the effect of his right hon. Friend's Budget? Will he tell us what the effect of the Budget has been in increasing food prices, and what he anticipates it will be over the next two or three months?

Mr. Hughes

I certainly cannot give any precise figures. We have already said that we expect prices to rise due to devaluation. As I said, we keep closely in touch with current prices.

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