HC Deb 10 November 1970 vol 806 cc200-1
Q4. Mr. John Fraser

asked the Prime Minister how many letters he has received on the subject of food prices.

The Prime Minister

About 350 Sir.

Mr. Fraser

When dealing with the letters, how does the right hon. Gentleman square his statement that he will act directly to reduce prices with the proposed increase in the price of bread? Does he tell the writers of the letters that he has removed all control, does he explain that he is putting levies on imported wheat, or, like Marie Antoinette and the Minister of Agriculture, does he recommend them to a competing product?

The Prime Minister

Information of that sort is not requested. Most of the letter writers realise that the right hon. Member for Huyton (Mr. Harold Wilson) and his colleagues were responsible for putting the country in its present position and that the Opposition failed to deal with the matter and are now busy supporting any inflationary wage claim they can find to make it worse.

Mr. Arthur Davidson

Will the Prime Minister explain why he has wound up a body which greatly helped the housewife, namely, the Consumer Council? Is he aware that in the "Conservative Campaign Guide", which is admittedly a document I seldom read, tribute was paid to the work of the Consumer Council? Why has he gone back on the praise which he lavished on it during the election campaign?

The Prime Minister

There are a number of other organisations which provide this information for the housewife and for all shoppers, and the information is widely distributed in the Press. This is an admirable service, and if the Government can economise in money it should do so.

Mr. Buchan

Why does the right hon. Gentleman insist on the hypocrisy that he is concerned with keeping down food prices when he has appointed as Minister of Agriculture a man who thinks that the nation has been mollycoddled by cheap food and acts, as a matter of policy, to raise food prices? Why cannot he come to the House and say that this is his policy?

The Prime Minister

Because, as my right hon. Friend has explained, he wishes, and the Government wish, to give British farmers the opportunity to expand food production and save on imports. This was the declared policy of the last Administration which they never had the courage to carry out.