§ Mr. Stainton
asked the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection what studies she has made and what is her assessment of the applicability here of certain French price freeze devices, and, in particular, the Government-inspired seasonal price cuts—such as winter clothes in November—which are intended to ameliorate the price index whilst higher sales compensate trades for lesser margins.
§ Mr. Maclennan
My Department maintains continuous observation of prices330W policy in France. Action on prices in France may be either voluntary, like the operation Frein sur les Prix in 1974, or compulsory, like the selective price freeze announced by the Finance Minister on 3rd June. Allowing for the difference between our countries, our 10 per cent. cut on retailers' margins accompanied by the voluntary agreement which concentrated the reductions on goods of maximum interest to the poorer consumer achieved similar results. The subsidy and price control powers in the Prices Act 1974 have enabled us to act selectively, as the French and others have done from time to time.