§ 28. Mr. William Hamilton
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what steps he intends to take to ensure that concealed price increases are not imposed on the housewife in the form of decreases in the quality and quantity of food products sold in cans and other containers.
§ 29. Sir G. Nabarro
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether he will state the percentage increase in retail food prices for each half year of three consecutive half years ended 29th February, 1972, or nearest convenient dates; and what rate of retail price escalation these figures represent.
§ Mr. Prior
Over the half year ending 19th January, 1971, the food index rose by 3.4 per cent.; over the half year ending 20th July, 1971, by 7.8 per cent.; and over the half year ending 18th January, 1972, by 3.4 per cent. Although seasonal factors mean that these figures are not directly comparable, I am satisfied that the rate of increase is slowing down.
§ Mr. Prior
There is no clear-cut division in the food index between imported and other foods. However, between 16th June, 1970, and 18th January, 1972, the latest date for which information is available, the sub-group of the food index covering items mainly imported for direct consumption rose by 23.3 per cent.
§ 39. Mr. Peter Mills
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what has been the trend of grocery prices as a whole during the past four months; and what commodities have been principally responsible for this trend.
§ Mr. Prior
Between 21st September, 1971, and 18th January, 1972, the food index rose by 4.0 per cent. This was largely due to seasonal price increases on fish and fresh fruit and vegetables. Butter, cheese, and bacon, all of which we import to a significant extent, also became dearer, as did bread, sugar and some other manufactured foods.
§ Mr. Carter
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food by how much the cost of food has risen since 18th June, 1970.59W
§ Mr. O'Halloran
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what has been the trend in world food prices during the past 12 months, from information available from international sources; and how these compare with British food prices.