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Fish Prices

Volume 523: debated on Monday 1 February 1954

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29.

asked the Minister of Food, in view of the high price of fish now prevailing, what action he proposes to take to prevent the incidence of scarcity through bad fishing conditions being aggravated by monopoly; and, in view of the fact that the price of cod is higher this year as compared with similar seasonal conditions prevailing last year, if he will reimpose control.

The recent scarcity and high price of fish are due to bad weather conditions on the fishing grounds.

The answer to the second part of the Question is "No, Sir."

:Am I to take it that the Minister attributes the increase in the price of fish entirely to bad weather conditions? Is it not also true that one of the factors operating here is the monopolistic power of certain traders?

:There is no such question in the month of January. I can assure the hon. Gentleman that the reason for the high price of fish today is the adverse weather which is always experienced in this country during particular months, and that January was one of the worst months we have had. There were 145 gale warnings during January compared with 91 in January last year. I do not think that anyone who knows the North Sea at this time of the year will think that the fishermen are being overpaid.

Does not my right hon. and gallant Friend agree that it is evident from all these Questions on food prices that there are by-elections pending?

:If it is any help in the next by-election, I am glad to say that prices this morning have dropped compared with last week, in respect of cod, from 10s. to 12s. 10d. to 6s. 6d. to 8s. 6d.; and haddock from 11s. to 16s. 4d. to 6s. to 11s. 3d. There is a drop; and there is no doubt that the high prices were due practically entirely to the bad weather in the last few weeks.