§ Mr. Peart
In October, 1966 I instituted a survey of retail prices under which I have been receiving regular information about a wide range of foodstuffs sold by grocers, greengrocers, butchers and fishmongers. This information, which has been made available through the cooperation of trade associations and individual traders, covers independent, multiple and Co-operative Society shops and supermarkets throughout the United Kingdom.
I have been considering whether greater use should be made of this survey in order to give consumers more information on what has been happening to food prices. With the agreement of the trade I am arranging to issue fortnightly a statement on trends in retail prices. This will be based on information derived from the survey and will indicate significant movements in food prices in the most recent fortnightly period. There will normally be an interval of about a week between the end of the period and the issue of the statement.
The prices of many important foodstuffs vary frequently in response to changes in supply and demand. The trends shown in the statement will not, therefore, necessarily give any indication of how future prices are likely to move. Similarly, there are sound economic reasons why prices vary between different parts of the country and between different shops. The trends shown may not, therefore, be reflected in the prices in particular shops. The statement will, however, indicate objectively what has been happening to food prices generally. The first statement will be issued tomorrow. I will keep these arrangements under review. I hope that they will provide a useful information service to the public.