Margarine

Oral Answers to Questions — Prices and Consumer Protection – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 11th October 1976.

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Photo of Mr Ronald Atkins Mr Ronald Atkins , Preston North 12:00 am, 11th October 1976

asked the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection if he will redistribute the total subsidy now paid on butter equally between butter and margarine.

Photo of Mr Robert Maclennan Mr Robert Maclennan Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Prices and Consumer Protection)

No, Sir. It would be inappropriate to extend the coverage of the subsidy programme at this stage.

Photo of Mr Ronald Atkins Mr Ronald Atkins , Preston North

Would not my hon. Friend agree that there is a case on egalitarian and health grounds, there being no cholesterol in some margarines, for this equal subsidy? Can he assure us that the Government will not be talked out of rejecting the proposals which are currently being made in the Common Market for increasing the price of margarine?

Photo of Mr Robert Maclennan Mr Robert Maclennan Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Prices and Consumer Protection)

My right hon. Friend has already made clear the Government's firm opposition to this proposal and, therefore, the impossibility of its coming to fruition. The health point was in my right hon. Friend's mind when the rate of subsidy on butter was adjusted earlier in the summer. It is too late in the subsidy programme to seek to set up the apparatus of control that would be necessary to introduce a new subsidy.

Photo of Mr Neil Marten Mr Neil Marten , Banbury

Is it true that if the green pound were devalued to its right level the increase in the cost of food in this country would be 7 per cent.?

Photo of Mr Robert Maclennan Mr Robert Maclennan Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Prices and Consumer Protection)

That is, I believe, correct. That is why the Government have resisted a devaluation of the green pound.

Mr. R. C. Mitchell:

Do I take it from the earlier reply that if Mr. Lardinois persists in his absurd proposal for placing a tax on margarine the British Government will veto it?

Photo of Mr Robert Maclennan Mr Robert Maclennan Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Prices and Consumer Protection)

The British Government, in my presence, have made their views entirely clear in the current Council of Agriculture Ministers. This is an unacceptable proposal, not only to the British Government.