HC Deb 28 January 1976 vol 904 cc246-7W
Mrs. Joyce Butler

asked the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection what action she has taken on the report of the Price Commission on sanitary protection; and if she will make a statement.

Mrs. Shirley Williams

In my statement to the House on 5th August I referred to the Price Commission's recommendation that manufacturers of sanitary protection products should discontinue recommended retail prices or, if this could not be achieved, should reduce them by 10 per cent. The four manufacturers' who recommended retail prices at the time of the Price Commission report have informed me that they are discontinuing the practice. I am asking those responsible for the local price surveys which my Department finances to consider including sanitary protection products in future surveys.

My Department has also pursued with manufacturers the prices which they charge to distributors. These talks have confirmed the Price Commission finding that the Price Code had prevented average prices rising as fast as costs and that the manufacture of sanitary towels was not an industry of high profitability. I have, therefore, concluded that there is no possibility of these companies reducing their prices, and have accepted that, although the companies will make every effort to keep any price increases within the 5 per cent. limit of the price restraint scheme, cost pressures both in their raw material supplies and from equal pay will prevent their formal inclusion in the scheme.

As regards the supply of tampons, I am pleased to be able to tell the House that as a result of our discussions Tam-pax Limited has informed me that, subject to unforeseeable developments in costs and to discussion of them with me, it intends to maintain until the end of the selective price restraint scheme in July next the price which it adopted in March of last year. Price stability over a period of 18 months of cost increases represents a commendable effort by the company to contribute to the fight against inflation and to share the benefits of its efficiency with its customers. South-alls, the other manufacturer of tampons, last increased the price in June last year. It has undertaken not to increase the price of tampons during the period of the price restraint scheme, subject, again, to unforseeable increases in costs.

Year Grants Loans TA Grand Total
1965 55 16 71
1966 90 96 186
1967 85 132 217
1968 138 275 413
1969 149 229 378
1970 109 209 318
1971 379 70 449
1972 Cr. 8 55 47
1973 10 87 68 165
1974 13 108 63 184
1,020 195 1,213 2,428

Mr. Newens

asked the Minister for Overseas Development if he will make a statement on his policy towards the provision of aid to North and South Vietnam in present circumstances.

Mr. Prentice

I have received no requests for aid from the authorities in Vietnam and I have no present plans for new aid there.

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