HC Deb 27 April 1972 vol 835 cc1764-5
Q1. Mr. Lamond

asked the Prime Minister why he has appointed an additional Minister of State at the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food.

The Prime Minister (Mr. Edward Heath)

I would refer the hon. Gentleman to the Answer I gave last Tuesday to a similar Question from the hon. Member for Fife, West (Mr. William Hamilton).—[Vol. 835, c. 1269-70.]

Mr. Lamond

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that I strongly support his action in sending some assistance to this Department, which has been unable to cope with the problem of rising prices? Is he aware that when I forwarded a letter from one of my constituents, an old-age pensioner, complaining about a 30 per cent. increase in the price of pre-packed sweets, the Department's only comment was to suggest that he should take it up with the shopkeeper? Has the right hon. Gentleman decided to switch his attack from trade unionists to small shopkeepers as the people responsible for rising prices?

The Prime Minister

Anyone is entitled to shop around to find the best prices. [Interruption.] The purpose of increasing the number of Ministers in this Department was so that in the increasing number of discussions taking place in Brussels it should be possible for Ministers properly to defend the interests of British farmers and British housewives.

Mr. Redmond

What success has the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food had in reducing the increase in food prices?

The Prime Minister

The success which we have achieved in the last year in the reduction of the rate of increase of prices is well known, however much hon. Gentlemen opposite may dislike it.

Mr. Wellbeloved

If the right hon. Gentleman believes that the British people should shop around, may I ask him why he does not hold a General Election and let them shop around for some decent leaders?

The Prime Minister

Nobody could deny that the Opposition would offer them a choice. This gives me an opportunity to congratulate the new Deputy Leader of the Labour Party on having been elected to that position. May I say how satisfactory it is to see another former Patronage Secretary moving so quickly up the rungs?