HC Deb 06 March 1978 vol 945 cc959-60
16. Mr. Budgen

asked the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection what are the terms and conditions of appointment of the Chairman of the Price Commission.

Mr. Hattersley

Mr. Charles Williams was appointed full-time Chairman of the Price Commission for a period of two years from 1st August 1977 at an annual salary of £18,000.

Mr. Budgen

Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that the tea prices issue illustrates that he and the Chairman of the Price Commission together have acted in an arbitrary and political way? Will he warn the chairman that any party which believes in competition and market forces ought, when it is returned to power, to dismiss both the chairman and the Price Commission?

Mr. Hattersley

I am not sure whether the hon. Gentleman has read the report on the tea blenders. If he has done so, he might have done the House the courtesy of referring to those paragraphs which complain that competition within that industry is insufficient.

Mr. Molloy

Does my right hon. Friend agree that the comments of the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Budgen) would be totally rejected by some manufacturers? Does he further agree that organisations such as the CWS and Lyons Tetley have voluntarily brought down the price of tea to 22p per quarter? Is he aware that there are some manufacturers who believe that only one set of tea blenders is consulted when the general index has to be adjusted? Will he please look into that and ensure that a wider range of tea blenders is consulted?

Mr. Hattersley

All of the questions about the report concerning the tea blenders have demonstrated, irrespective of what might be said in the House and the? country, that whenever there is the oppor- tunity to take positive action to reduce specific prices the Opposition always are vocally against such a move.

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