HC Deb 21 July 1964 vol 699 cc68-9W
Mr. A. Lewis

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether he will publish in HANSARD a detailed list giving the particulars of items of foods which have decreased in price since 1951 and were in May, 1964, lower than those pertaining in October, 1951.

Mr. Soames

Since over the last 13 years prices and incomes in general have increased considerably, instances of actual declines in food prices must be exceptional. Nevertheless, eggs this May were some 35–40 per cent. cheaper than in October, 1951, and according to trade lists there have been decreases in certain canned fruits and vegetables and other manufactured foods.

Mr. A. Lewis

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (1) to what extent he estimates that the 10s. 4d. in the £ sterling rise in food prices since October, 1951, has been due to the abolition of food subsidies and to the rise in world market prices, respectively;

(2) if he will publish a table of figures showing to what extent the rises in food prices which took place from 1945 to October, 1951, and from October, 1951, to June, 1964, respectively, were caused by rising world food prices; and whether he will give figures to show the average rise in world food prices compared with home prices during these periods;

(3) whether he will give the rise in food prices in £ sterling since 1951 to date in relationship to the rise or fall in the costs of food imports and world prices, giving similar and separate details for the years 1945–51 and 1951–64.

Mr. Soames

There is no generally accepted measure of world food prices; in any event they are much less important than wages as a factor in determining food prices at retail. Also the extent to which our imports were bought at world prices and the proportion of our food that was imported were not uniform over the period. The rise in retail food prices since 1945, or since 1951, cannot be apportioned between the two factors referred to by the hon. Member, which are only two out of many and omit wages. The following table shows the changes in food prices over the periods in question, with wage rates for comparison:

Changes in £ sterling
1945–51 (calendar years) October, 1951–May, 1964
s. d. s' d.
Retail food prices 9 5 10 4
Wage rates 6 8 15 7

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