§ 37. Mr. E. Johnson
asked the Minister of Health if he is aware that bakers supplying bread to hospitals on contracts not containing a rise or fall clause have been seriously affected by his decision that hospital management committees should not pay them the increased price of bread resulting from the reduction of the bread subsidy; and 23 if, in view of the fact that this increase came about as the result of a Government decision and was a matter over which the bakers had no control, he will allow hospital management committees to pay the increased price.
§ The Minister of Health (Mr. R. H. Turton)
I am aware of representations to this effect. I am advised and have informed hospital authorities that unless provision for variation of price is included in the contract there is no legal liability to pay more than the contract price. It would therefore be improper for me to authorise extra-contractual payments.
§ Mr. Johnson
Is my right hon. Friend aware that hospital management committees would like to pay the extra price in view of the fact that, when the price of bread was reduced, bakers in turn reduced their prices even if their contracts did not contain a rise and fall clause? Is it not rather mean to stick too rigidly to the letter of the law?
§ Mr. Turton
I am not aware that bakers have reduced their prices in such circumstances. When there is a price change, and if there is a clause of this nature, the contractor gains on some occasions and loses on others. It must also be remembered that hospital management committees will have accepted tenders in competition with other tenderers, and it would be wrong to go back on them at this stage.