§ 4. Mr. Barnes
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what overall movement there has been in retail food prices since June, 1970, to the latest available date, as shown by the Food Index.
§ 24. Mr. Carter
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food by how much in percentage terms food has increased in price since June, 1970.
§ Mr. Barnes
Does not this figure mean that in the 10 months of this Government food prices have already gone up considerably more than in any full year under Labour? When can we expect this upward trend to be slowed down?
§ Mr. Prior
Hon. Members must realise that it will take some while to get prices under control and that it is the policies of the last Government which are partly to blame. The main problem is one of increasing wages and increasing world commodity prices. Until these show more signs of stability, we shall find it hard to keep prices stable.
§ Mr. Carter
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the electors of Broms-grove are indebted to him for his intervention in the by-election, when he confidently predicted that under this Government food prices would continue to rise? Does he not feel that now is the time to be honest with the House and admit that it is due to Government policy that food prices continue to rise?
§ Mr. Mackie
Surely the Government's policy is to give farmers their prices from the market. If farmers are to get such guaranteed prices, then prices to the consumer must rise. The right hon. Gentleman really must start to admit this and not keep repeating that he is going to get things under control. He cannot get things under control if he carries on present Government policy.
§ Mr. Alfred Morris
Can the right hon. Gentleman say anything about the expected movement in the price of bread?
§ 18. Sir G. Nabarro
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether he will state, respectively, the increases in prices per centum, calculated as to retail, for home-produced foods and imported foods between June, 1970, and June, 1971.
§ Mr. Prior
It is not possible, on the present basis of the Food Index, to identify separately the movements in prices of all home-produced and of all imported foods. Details for certain sub-groups of the Index, are, however, available, and I will, with permission, circulate in the OFFICIAL REPORT the percentage increases for those sub-groups between 16th June, 1970, and 20th April, 1971, the latest date for which information is available.
|Increase in the Index of Retail Food Prices between 16th June, 1970 and 20th April, 1971 of which—||8.5|
|(a)||items the prices of which show significant seasonal variations*||…||…||…||2.8|
|(i)||items mainly home-produced for direct consumption||…||…||…||14.5|
|(ii)||items mainly imported for direct consumption||…||…||…||7.5|
|(iii)||items manufactured in the United Kingdom||…||…||…||9.3|
|(1)||manufactured primarily from home-produced raw materials||…||…||…||11.1|
|(2)||manufactured primarily from imported raw materials||…||…||…||8.3|
|*Home-killed lamb, fresh and smoked fish, eggs, fresh vegetables and fresh fruit are the items the prices of which show significant seasonal variations.|
§ prices over the period amounting to about 8.5 per cent. is the cause of the gravest anxiety and that it is contrary to the undertakings given by our party at the last General Election?
§ Sir G. Nabarro
Does my right hon. Friend know that South Worcestershire is contiguous to Bromsgrove and that I am feeling excessively uncomfortable—[Interruption.] What hopes has my right hon. Friend of arresting these considerable increases in food prices?
§ Sir G. Nabarro
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I could not hear the answer given by my right hon. Friend because of the noise from the party opposite. Could you ask the Opposition to behave themselves?
§ Mr. Kaufman
Returning to the supplementary question put by my hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Wythenshawe (Mr. Alfred Morris), would the right hon. Gentleman now give the House and country a categoric assurance that the retail price of the standard loaf of bread will not rise to 15p either this year or next?
§ Following is the information:847
§ 23. Mr. William Hamilton
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what are the reasons for the recent increases in the prices of beef and butter.
§ Mr. Hamilton
Since the right hon. Gentleman has already admitted that butter prices have increased by no less than 40 per cent. in the last 10 months and that beef prices have increased about 50 per cent. in the same period, is he aware that if this rate of increase continues we shall be damned glad to get into the Common Market to get reduced prices for butter and beef?
§ Mr. Prior
That is a new point of view for the hon. Gentleman to put forward. Butter prices have gone up because of the drought conditions in New Zealand and Australia and shortages in other countries, particularly in the Common Market. As for beef, if only we produced more beef we would be less dependent on high-priced imports.