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Food Manufacturers' Charter

Volume 893: debated on Monday 16 June 1975

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asked the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection whether she will make a statement about the Government's policy towards the proposals in the food manufacturers' charter.

The trade has agreed that there should be such a charter. I am discussing this question with it at the present time.

In view of the rapidly rising costs of manufacturers, does the right hon. Lady agree that it is urgent to have a move towards a voluntary policy which will take account of all the costs with which manufacturers are faced directly as a result of the Government's voluntary wages policy?

It is the Government's policy to enter into voluntary planning agreements with industry, but the outline of the food charter is still in very general terms and we are discussing with them the details which the food manufacturers have in mind.

My right hon. Friend seems rather timorous—if I may use a Scottishism—about any attempt being made to impose a wage freeze. Will she tell us that she will not agree to the blandishments of the trade to have a free-for-all in prices, and that everything she has been doing in this respect will be kept up in the months ahead?

My hon. Friend need have no fear that I would like or want to see any kind of free-for-all in prices at present. That would be madness.