§ Mr. Hilton
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether he will make a statement about chocolate and sugar confectionery prices.
§ Mr. Peart
During the latter part of last year the manufacturers of chocolate and sugar confectionery notified me, in accordance with the revised early warning arrangements, of certain price increases, intended to take effect early this year. These proposals, which were occasioned mainly by taxation increases and increased imported raw material costs (particularly cocoa), were examined in detail by the Government and I have discussed them exhaustively with leading firms in the industry. I am satisfied that price increases are necessary and justified within the terms of the White Papers (Cmnd. 3073 and 3150). The industry is absorbing a considerable part of their extra costs falling within the criteria of the White Paper, as well as all other increased costs which are outside those criteria. In addition, the manufacturers agreed to defer the price increases —which in some lines will take the form of small weight reductions with no change in price—and they will not become generally effective until next month.
I should like to pay tribute to the cooperation I have received from the industry.