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Unit Pricing

Volume 891: debated on Monday 28 April 1975

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7.

asked the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection what action she is taking to encourage a wider use of unit pricing in shops and supermarkets.

18.

asked the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection what progress has been made towards the introducing of mandatory unit pricing.

Following the favourable reception to our initial price marking orders we are pressing on with our plans for extending mandatory unit pricing to other fresh and frozen foods. In particular we are holding discussions with the interests concerned on meat, poultry, fish, fruit and vegetables to consider the most suitable methods of so doing. My right hon. Friend hopes to be able to make a further batch of orders before the Summer Recess.

I am grateful to hear of the progress that is being made. Would not my hon. Friend agree that the bewildering array of prices, sizes and brands on supermarket shelves makes it virtually impossible for the housewife to exercise intelligent value-for-money choice unless she carries a slide rule or a pocket calculator? Does not my hon. Friend agree that the introduction of unit pricing is the best way of enabling the housewife to make intelligent choices? Will he therefore press on firmly with this policy?

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his support. We attach considerable importance to making as rapid progress as possible in this rather difficult area. There are very complicated problems which my hon. Friend will understand, particularly in respect of unit pricing of meat. There are other areas in which we hope to be able to provide better information—for example, by prescribed quantities.

Does not the hon. Gentleman agree that two of the problems involved here are, first, indecision about whether we are part of the Community —a definite decision on this point would help manufacturers to unit-price packages which are constant—and, secondly, the position with regard to metrication?

To be fair, we must proceed with unit pricing whether or not we decide to remain within the Common Market. We are bearing the metrication issue very much in mind.