HC Deb 08 July 1974 vol 876 cc928-9
8. Mr. Blaker

asked the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection what review she has recently made of the operation of the bread subsidy; and if she will make a statement.

Mr. Maclennan

We are keeping the operation of the bread subsidy under continuous review.

Mr. Blaker

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that I wrote to the Secretary of State on 30th May enclosing a letter from my constituent Mr. Parker-Brown, writing on behalf of 30 owners of grocery businesses in the area, in which he expressed the view that the subsidy was being used by the bakers to offer to large retailers very large discounts which they were denying to smaller retailers? Is the hon. Gentleman further aware that this view is widely shared? When may I expect a reply to my letter?

Mr. Maclennan

I have seen the correspondence which the hon. Member has had with the Director General of Fair Trading. But I cannot accept—I have made this clear before—that the level of discount allowed has been influenced by the existence of the subsidy. The practice of discounting is not new. The rate of the subsidy was determined following the Price Commission's examination of the price notifications by the major plant bakers and reflected the amount that the industry would otherwise have been able to recover from the market.