HC Deb 02 May 1977 vol 931 cc28-9
30. Mr. Adley

asked the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection what effect on future investment plans in the brewing industry he expects his inquiry into beer prices will have; and what consultations he has had with other Government Departments.

Mr. Hattersley

I would not expect investment plans to be significantly affected by the inquiry now being undertaken by the Price Commission. Before any reference is made to the Commission, it is the practice to undertake such consultations within Whitehall as may be appropriate.

Mr. Adley

Is not the Secretary of State aware that many brewers have expressed to me the view that his recent announcement on prices will have a substantial effect upon their investment plans? If he believes that there will be no effect, will he take urgent steps to talk to one or two brewers so that they may tell him how his announcement is having a direct effect upon the creation of more jobs in the brewing industry?

Mr. Hattersley

They may have said that to the hon. Gentleman, but that does not alter the fact that Allied Breweries is continuing with its £164 million investment programme over the next two years. I am advised that Courage, Whitbread, and Scottish and Newcastle are all building new breweries, or contemplating doing so, and there has been no indication that the Price Commission reference has changed their minds in any way.

Mr. Woodall

Is my right hon. Friend aware—and I know that he is—of the widespread concern expressed by the working men's clubs in my area at the massive profits being made, particularly by the brewery just mentioned, when the price of beer has been disproportionately increased?

Mr. Hattersley

I am very conscious of that. It was with that in mind that I made the reference to the Price Commission, whose report will, I hope, be with us in a month or two.