§ 7. Mrs. Renée Short
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he is satisfied that the hundreds of grocery price increases since the beginning of 1968 are in accordance with the Government's policy; and what action he intends 1388 to take to protect the British public from unjustifiable price increases when wages and salaries are pegged.
§ Mr. Peart
The Government's price surveillance arrangements are designed to ensure that no price increases of significance are made unless they are justified. I am satisfied that these arrangements are working well. Some price increases must be expected, though the mere counting of lines, including variations of size, pack and flavour, can mislead people outside the trade.
§ Mrs. Short
In so far as some price increases are inevitable because of devaluation and imported products, does my right hon. Friend not think that a case has been made out to control imports not vis-á-vis goods from any particular country, but by making importers place the money to cover the cost of imports with the bank?
§ Mr. Peter Mills
Will the Minister stop wriggling over this? Does he realise that these increases are the direct result of Socialist policies such as devaluation and S.E.T.? Is he aware that the cost of living will never be held steady while we have a Socialist Government?
§ Mr. Peart
I am rather surprised that the hon. Member should say that I am wriggling. If one looks at the commodities and price increases, there has been foot-and-mouth which has had an effect upon beef, but that is nothing to do with Socialist policies, it was an outbreak of disease. There have been higher prices for lamb and pork but those are seasonal. Cabbage and cauliflower prices have risen, but again this is a seasonal factor. The hon. Gentleman should get his facts right.
§ Mr. Godber
Will the Minister tell us what is his estimate of the increased cost of grocery prices which will result from the Transport Bill now going through the House?