HC Deb 08 July 1974 vol 876 cc931-2
Mr. Peter Morrison

asked the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection what contingency plans for rationing she has.

Mr. Maclennan

None, Sir.

Mr. Morrison

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the estimates of the future supplies of milk and butter are predictably well down? Does he agree that if price controls force down production the only result can be the Socialist Utopia, namely, rationing?

Mr. Maclennan

It is known that milk supplies from our farms during the rest of this year are likely to be somewhat less than they were last year, but there is no indication that we are heading for an overall shortage. We are dependent on imports for about 80 per cent. of our butter supplies, and although home production and New Zealand supplies are likely to be reduced this year imports from Community countries are available and supplies are expected to be adequate.

Mr. Gwilym Roberts

Does my hon. Friend agree that the Opposition showed great expertise in rationing—rationing by the purse—when they were in office and that they have driven fresh meat, butter and a great many other essentials off the table of many poor families? Will he make clear that we shall ensure that the same thing does not happen under the present Government and that if there is any failure in the voluntary agreement the Secretary of State will use her powers under the Act to control prices?

Mr. Maclennan

It was with those considerations in mind that my right hon. Friend introduced subsidies on the more important items in the food basket of the less-well-off sections of the community. The Opposition are not helping the situation by crying "Wolf, wolf".

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