asked the Minister of Food whether, in view of the announcement of a further increase in price, he will now reintroduce price controls of tea.
I have nothing to add to the reply which my right hop. and gallant Friend gave on 7th April to the hon. Member for Coatbridge and Airdrie (Mrs. Mann).
In view of the fact that the price was increased by 4d. per lb. only a month ago and a further price increase has just been announced, does the Minister not agree that there is a case for intervention now by his Department?
The hon. Gentleman will realise that in the year up to last month the Calcutta prices were up by Is. l½d. per lb., a price increase which saved the tea gardens from disaster. We cannot escape the consequences of that change.
Is it not a fact that these increased prices are largely the result of a steadily improving standard of living among the workers in the tea gardens of the East? That should be welcomed rather than criticised.
It is a fact that the main factors in the increased cost are freight, storage and labour costs.
While we admit that perhaps from the point of view of the producers of tea there has to be an increase, and has been an increase, will hon. Members opposite now cease from stating that the cost of living is not rising?
The index of the cost of living is the index which was statistically virtuous under the last Administration. The same index is being used today.