Oral Answers to Questions — Food Supplies – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 14th December 1949.
asked the Minister of Food (1) if he will make it compulsory for price lists in butchers' shops to be exhibited in a frame in the windows of the shops, the lettering not to be less than 1¼ inches in height and to be replaced when they become faded or discoloured or for any other reason not clearly discernible;
(2) if he is aware that some butchers are charging prices for B grade meat equivalent to the price they are permitted to charge for A grade meat; and, in order to protect the public, if he will make it compulsory for the notices relating to price and grade to be exhibited in a frame on the window board or slab and the lettering not to be less than 1¼ inches in height.
The Meat Prices Order provides that the maximum retail prices for meat must be displayed in a conspicuous position, and I do not think that we can go further than this. I am afraid that a price list of the size suggested would be 11 feet long and nine feet wide. Any butcher who is found charging A grade prices for B grade meat is liable to be prosecuted.
In view of the fact that the object of any price list which it is compulsory to exhibit in a butcher's shop is for the purpose of acquainting the public with the price of the meat which they have to buy, may I inform my right hon. Friend that if she were to go round the butcher's shops in my constituency and in other places she would find faded and discoloured notices upon which one cannot read the prices of meat? Further, in reference to her reply to my second Question, may I point out—
If my hon. Friend goes round his constituency and finds faded notices which he is unable to read, then, of course, it is his duty to report the matter to the food office.
Would my right hon. Friend say whether there is a housewife in the whole of Britain who is able to face up to her butchers on this subject and, if so, could we have a photograph of her placed in the Library?
If the House is willing, I am quite prepared to put the hon. Lady's photograph and my own in the Library.
Is the Minister aware that the housewife cannot at any time ascertain either the quality, the grade or the price of meat from the present arrangement in the shops, and will she consider making an order so that the butchers will have to do what they did before the war and exhibit on the meat they offer for sale the price to be charged? That could be done.
I think my hon. Friend has missed the point of these Questions. That is done. It has to be done. The butcher has to indicate both the cuts and the quality of the meat as well as the price.
Is the Minister aware that in fact B grade meat is being sold as A grade at 2d. a pound more than it should be sold, and that according to information which I have received from assistants working in butcher's shops in my constituency, fiddling is going on left, right, and centre, and will she do something about it?
If my hon. Friend cares to give me details of these allegations, I will certainly institute proceedings.
Will the right hon. Lady say what all this means, anyhow, when a housewife has to take what she can get?