§ 13. Mr. Thomas Cox
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when he last met representatives of the Food Manufacturers Federation.
§ Mr. Cox
Is not the right hon. Gentleman aware that week after week millions of people are being fleeced by price increases which cannot be justified because many of the items that are being increased in price are already in the shops? Because of that, someone must be making a huge profit. Is it not the right hon. Gentleman's job to seek a meeting with the federation and explain how he attempts, or will attempt, to tackle this abuse which is lowering the standard of living of millions of people?
§ Mr. Prior
If the hon. Gentleman is fair he will recognise that the food manufacturing industry has done a remarkably good job in the last year in keeping prices as stable as it has. In view of the difficult situation of world supplies, and also of wages and inflation in this country, I think that the Food Manufacturers Federation is to be congratulated on what it has been able to do.
§ Mr. Farr
One of the points which the Food Manufacturers Federation has made to my right hon. Friend is about VAT and purchase tax on food. May I ask my right hon. Friend to make representations to his right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer that he should reconsider present Government policy in changing over from purchase tax to VAT on certain popular and widely consumed foodstuffs?
§ Mr. Prior
This is a matter for my right hon. Friend, but the products to which my hon. Friend refers have been reduced on two occasions in terms of purchase tax. We have halved SET. The operation of VAT on these foodstuffs will mean a further reduction in the burden of tax which they have to bear, but I shall consider what my hon. Friend has said and pass his comments to my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer.