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House Of Commons Catering (Prices)

Volume 523: debated on Monday 1 February 1954

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asked the hon. Member for Woolwich, West, as Chairman of the Kitchen Committee, if he is aware that the index number of food has shown a decline for the past few months; and what foods, other than eggs, have been reduced in price in the Members' Dining Room and Tea Room during the last few months.

I am aware that the price index figure of food, has shown a decline, for the past few months. Although very welcome, the all-round fall has been slight, and while the prices of certain commodities have dropped, the cost of a number of popular items, such as tea, coffee, butter, etc., has risen. A number of dishes in the Members' Dining Room have however, been reduced from 2s. to 1s. 9d., including fillet of cod, blanquette of rabbit, braised heart, etc., and jugged hare from 2s. 6d. to 2s. 3d.

Is not the hon. Gentleman in the same position as the housewife? Is he aware that housewives appreciate that those items which have gone down in price according to the price index figure are those which are bought very occasionally, whereas such things as butter, bacon and cheese have gone up considerably? Are we to take it that that is the reason why there has not been a drop in the price of food in the Members' Dining Room?

:As the Chairman of the Kitchen Committee has gone into great detail in this matter, can he say why, if the price of cooked ham outside this House is 2s. 6d. per ½ lb., he is charging 2s. 6d. in the Tea Room for a very small slice?

:The price we pay for ham is 6s. 6d. and it works out at five portions to the pound. There is a lot of waste, and it does not leave a great deal of margin, but I would inform the right hon. Lady that the price of ham is under review.

Would it not be a very good thing if the price of food in the House of Commons was put up all round in order that we could repay the taxpayer for the losses sustained in the past?

:May we take it from the answer of the Chairman of the Kitchen Committee that he does not agree with the Minister of Food that the price of bacon, bread, meat, milk, butter, cheese, margarine and cooking fat is irrelevant to a consideration of the cost of living?