asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he is aware that the wholesale price of English (No. 1) smoked bacon was 304s. per cwt. in September, 1957, 270s. per cwt. in October and early November and 302s. on 22nd November, and that meanwhile official retail bacon prices, with one minor exception, remained unchanged throughout the period of lower wholesale prices but rose by 4d. per lb. on 22nd November; and if, in view of this anomalous rise, he will reconsider his decision not to impose price control.
There are no official retail bacon prices, but, in a large number of shops covered by information available to my right hon. Friend, retail prices have generally reflected changes in wholesale prices. Increases as a result of the last increase in wholesale prices have been much less than the hon. Member suggests. The second part of the Question does not, therefore, arise.
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the prices given in the Question are quoted from the Grocer? Has he not missed the point of the Question, namely, that when wholesale prices went up again in November, retail prices jumped by 4d. per lb? Will he, therefore, take steps to ensure that when supplies are plentiful, as they are now, that will be reflected in lower prices in the shops, because it is of great importance to the nation that we should have lower food prices now, in line with what the Chancellor of the Exchequer has been saying?
I realise that the figures used by the hon. Gentleman came from the Grocer. They are figures produced by one wholesaler, and they are based on a percentage increase on wholesale prices. However, the retail prices of some of the main multiple retailers show a very different picture indeed, there being substantial reductions over the period. They have received a little more, but have certainly not reached the price level in November to which the hon. Gentleman referred.