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Volume 523: debated on Monday 1 February 1954

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asked the Minister of Food if he will give an assurance that the supplies of butter will be adequate to meet the demand when derationed; and if he can state the price.

On present forecasts increased supplies of butter will be available this year, but butter cannot be considered in isolation. The total supply of fats will, I am satisfied, be ample when rationing ends.

> As regards the last part of the Question, like my predecessors, I cannot forecast price changes.

:Is the right hon. and gallant Gentleman aware that I am not asking about the overall quantity of fats? I am asking about butter. Is it that he neither knows nor cares?


:Does the right hon. and gallant Gentleman realise how grossly unfair he is in taking off this subsidy, because in December last, at the old price, 1½ million rations were not taken up? Under the Labour Government we reached a ration of 5 oz., which has never been reached under this Government. Is it not clear that the right hon. and gallant Gentleman is decontrolling at the expense of the housewife who will not be able to afford butter?

:That is not in accordance with the facts for, as the hon. Member knows as well as I do, among old-age pensioners, of whom hon. Members opposite talk a great deal, the whole of the butter ration is taken up.

:Does my right hon. and gallant Friend appreciate, as I am sure he does, that it takes 3½ gallons of milk to make 1 lb. of butter and that milk is more than 3s. a gallon?

In view of what his right hon. Friend has just said, will the Minister reconsider his decision and retain the subsidy?

:Even with the subsidy off there are very few countries where butter will be as cheap as it is in this country. The hon. Member always chooses figures which suit his case, but even without the subsidy butter will be very much cheaper here than in most other countries.

:May I ask your guidance, Mr. Speaker? How can the Table accept so many Questions which suggest that the cost of living has gone up and, at the same time, accept Question No. 47, which suggests that the cost of living has gone down? In one case this has been done by the same hon. Member.

:Before you reply, Mr. Speaker, may I say it is because I am aware that prices have not gone down in the Kitchen Committee's Department and that they do not accept the figures in the way I do, that I put that Question down; and knowing that we must take the official figures, whether we believe in them or not, I had to put the official figures in the Question.