HC Deb 01 November 1954 vol 532 cc11-2W
85. Mr. Osborne

asked the Minister of Food the estimated subsidy on a 14 oz. loaf of bread; how much is consumed per person per day; and the total annual cost of the subsidy.

Dr. Hill

The cost of subsidising National bread in 1954–55 was estimated at £47.4 million, equivalent to about 1⅓d. per 14 oz. loaf. Due mainly to decreases in the price of flour since this Estimate was published, the subsidy on the 14 oz. loaf at present is estimated at about 1d. The consumption of National bread is about 6½ oz. per person per day.

87. Mr. Peter Freeman

asked the Minister of Food whether he is aware that over 12,000 bakeries have had to close down since the war and that a large proportion of those left are now unable to deliver bread daily because of the working of the flour subsidy granted to large-plant bakeries as compared with the smaller firms which are compelled to grant credit and have proportionately heavier delivery costs; and what action he proposes to take in the matter.

Dr. Hill

The number of bakers claiming subsidy last year was 14,600 as compared with 18,254 in 1945 and 14,915 in 1951. A case for an increase in the net profit margin has been submitted by the trade and is now being considered.

92. Mrs. Mann

asked the Minister of Food the price of the National loaf before June, 1952, and the price now; and the cost of the subsidy.

Dr. Hill

The prescribed maximum retail prices for National bread before June, 1952, were 1s. 3d. for the 3½ lb. loaf, 7½d. for the 1¾ lb. loaf and 4¼d. for the 14 oz. loaf. There has been no change since then. The cost of the subsidy for 1954–55 was estimated at £47.4 million in the revised Estimate published on 31st March last. Owing to the subsequent fall in the price of flour the subsidy is now running well below this rate.

93. Mr. Mikardo

asked the Minister of Food whether he will make a statement on the course of his negotiations with the national organisations in the bakery trade on the subject of the profit margin on the production and distribution of national bread.

Dr. Hill

These organisations have submitted a joint claim for an increase in the profit margin on subsidised bread and this is at present under examination.

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