asked the Minister of Food how the new farm prices have affected the 1s. 6d. per week increase in food prices previously announced.
I would refer my hon. Friend to the answer given to the hon. Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay) on 29th April by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
asked the Minister of Food if he will give a list of the foods that will increase in price resulting from the annual review of farm prices; and the amount of such increases in each case.
In making the price increases necessary to bring the food subsidy figure down to a rate of £250 million a year I have to take into account the cost of imported foods as well as the farm prices resulting from the annual review. In opening his Budget, my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer listed the foods to be increased in price, and I will announce the amounts of the increases at the appropriate time.
Is the Minister aware that most of the lower-paid population of this country are of the opinion that the policy of this Government is to bring about de-rationing by increasing prices to such an extent that the poor people will not be able to take their rations? Will he give an assurance that the Government will not de-ration at the expense of the poor people?
On the contrary, we have taken steps to alleviate some of the hardship. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."]I am wondering whether the hon. Gentleman had the same views when prices were increased early last year.
Is the right hon. and gallant Gentleman aware that with the continual rise in the cost of living and of rationed foodstuffs, and the increase in unemployment, many families cannot now afford to take the rations, and that the rich are getting more than they are entitled to? Is it not time that the Government did something about that situation?
I do not accept what the hon. Gentleman says. I gave an answer last week to the hon. Member for Liverpool, Exchange (Mrs. Braddock), in which I said that the average increase over the whole weekly ration since last October was 2¼d. The hon. Gentleman is exaggerating slightly.
In view of the confusion which appears to have arisen on this subject, will my right hon. and gallant Friend take steps to see that the facts are made widely known throughout the country, quite apart from publication in HANSARD?