HC Deb 08 July 1974 vol 876 cc943-4
31. Mr. Michael McNair-Wilson

asked the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection what further proposals she has for subsidising food.

Mrs. Shirley Williams

We have recently announced the Government's in tention to subsidise household flour, and shall inform the House as soon as possible of any further detailed proposals

Mr. McNair-Wilson

In view of the rise in retail prices which, even if it is not as great as it might be, cannot give anyone reason to be complacent, does the right hon. Lady agree that there may be something to be said for applying subsidies to the cost of certain raw materials which producers use—rather on the lines of farmers and feeding stuffs—as a more cost-beneficial way of getting down the price of food?

Mrs. Williams

I do not rule out the importance of producer subsidies as well as consumer subsidies. My right hon Friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food has recently reintroduced the lime subsidy, sustained the pig meat subsidy and indicated certification procedures which are showing signs already of stabilising the beef market. I accept the spirit behind the hon. Gentleman's question—that the long-term pattern of prices, which is closely related to producer subsidies, is as important as the short-term, which is related to consumer subsidies.