HC Deb 24 May 1976 vol 912 cc19-20
14. Mr. Dodsworth

asked the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection what is the value of food subsidies per person per week in the average family of four persons comprising two children over 11 years of age and two adults.

Mr. Maclennan

The estimated average value for a typical family of two adults and two children is about 18p per week per person.

Mr. Dodsworth

I thank the Minister for his reply. Can be confirm that, as a direct consequence of the Chancellor's increase in indirect taxation, the average weekly cost to a family is 50p? Will he tell the House whether that rather curious choice of priorities was agreed in any discussions with the Trades Union Congress?

Mr. Maclennan

The hon. Member raises questions which are wide of the Question on the Order Paper.

Mr. Peter Bottomley

Does the Under-Secretary's answer include subsidies on school meals?

Mr. Maclennan

It does not.

Mr. Hooley

Does my hon. Friend agree that the need for food subsidies might be somewhat less if we were not saddled with the idiocy of the common agricultural policy? Is he aware of the racketeering which is now going on in beef, which is going into intervention stores, coming out cheap and then being sold at exaggerated profits? Is this matter to be investigated by his Department?

Mr. Maclennan

My Department was recently represented by myself at the discussions of the EEC on the future of the common agricultural policy. Membership of the EEC has some beneficial impacts in that at this time, when the fall in the value of the pound sterling is affecting imported food prices, that fall is to some extent cushioned by monetary compensatory amounts.

Mr. Neubert

Does not the Under-Secretary agree that, given the background of 50.9 per cent. inflation during this Government's term of office against a record annual rate last August of 26–9 per cent. and the most recent rate of annual inflation of 18.9 per cent., food subsidies that provide relief of 0.9 per cent. on the Retail Price Index are as significant as a pimple on a baby's bottom?

Mr. Maclennan

The present value of food subsidies on the food index is 4.9 per cent. The Opposition must come to terms with the fact that their advocacy of the abolition of the Price Code, their non-support for the Price Check Scheme and their proposal that we should end food subsidies add up to Substantial additions to the Retail Price Index. They must make up their minds what they want.

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