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Food Subsidies

Volume 486: debated on Tuesday 10 April 1951

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Now I turn to food subsidies. Here, I am faced with conflicting advice. Some argue that, in order to hold the cost of living, it would be right to increase the food subsidies; others say that £410 million is already much too high a figure, and should be reduced or cut out altogether. We are now in a position to consider this question against the background of the whole budgetary problem. The increases in National Insurance benefits mean that we have to find additional taxation not of £150 million but £170 million this year. I cannot contemplate the still further increases that would be necessary if we increased the subsidies. On the other hand, I do not think it would be right to add to the consumers' burden by cutting subsidies and so deliberately putting up prices further. This decision means that any increased costs which the Ministry of Food have to pay to farmers here and for imports will be passed on to consumers. As hon. Members are already aware, some increases in this field are bound to occur. The Minister of Food will announce them as necessary.