HC Deb 07 February 1977 vol 925 cc1031-2
5. Mr. Marten

asked the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection whether he will visit Merseyside to investigate price rises in that area.

Mr. Hattersley

I visited Merseyside on 21st January to open two consumer advice centres.

Mr. Marten

Is it correct that on that occasion the right hon. Gentleman made a speech dealing with the Common Market and food prices? What action are the Government taking to halt the totally unnecessary rise in the prices of certain food, such as butter, which is going up from 45p per pound to 72p per pound this year, not because of a rise in world prices but because of the common agricultural system? Is it not scandalous that that system should have to be tolerated by the British people?

Mr. Hattersley

The negotiation of the next price round within the Common Market is a matter for my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture. Those specific questions must be addressed to him. I feel sure that the hon. Gentleman knows that my right hon. Friend has been most robust about the Government's position in the next round. I am sure that he will stick to that firmly.

Mr. Heffer

I noticed on television that when my right hon. Friend visited Merseyside he met a deputation from the building workers, who were complaining about rising prices and the high level of unemployment in the area. Will my right hon. Friend say what answer he gave to those building workers?

Mr. Hattersley

There was some dispute about where the deputation was from. Certainly the leaflets that the men gave me bore the imprint not of the building workers but of the Communist Party. What I said to them was that all of us had the deepest vested interest in building a permanently prosperous economy, and that that applied most of all to the people who feared unemployment and who were unemployed. That was the ony legitimate message that I could give them.