HC Deb 20 May 1974 vol 874 cc25-6
26 . Mr. Michael Latham

asked the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection upon what criteria she based her decision to subsidise hard cheeses only; and whether she will make a statement.

Mr. Maclennan

The primary intention was to subsidise cheddar cheese, but to avoid distortion of trade it was necessary to include competing hard-pressed and semi-hard-pressed cheese.

Mr. Latham

On reflection, does the hon. Gentleman really want to defend the Government's action in subsidising white stilton, which represents 20 per cent. of the stilton output, plus a whole lot of foreign cheeses which no one has ever heard of, much less eaten, and not subsidising blue stilton, which represents 80 per cent. of stilton output and is famous throughout the world?

Mr. Maclennan

Blue stilton is a luxury cheese and is substantially more expensive than white stilton. It costs 42p per lb. whereas the best white stilton costs 341/2p per lb. It is no part of our intention to subsidise the specialised tastes of the better-off.

Mr. Tom Boardman

What proportion of the subsidy will go to foreign rather than to home-produced cheeses?

Mr. Maclennan

Approximately one-third. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."]

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