As fish and chip shops in my constituency are still doing good business, and as in a previous answer the Minister expressed his great enthusiasm for competition, will the hon. Gentleman take this opportunity to admit to the House that nothing epitomises the spirit of free enterprise more than the fish and chip shop? Will he give an equally loud and clear welcome to that too?
I share the view that it is highly desirable that the price of fish and chips should be as low as is consistent with maintaining production and profit. The problem, as I have explained, was that the price of potatoes rose very steeply during 1976—four times that in the base year of 1974—but the price of frozen chips in the same period did not rise by anything like as much and, therefore, the fall from that peak has been slightly less.
We have had discussions with the processors and with representatives of the trade. The question of profit margins, raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Dearne Valley (Mr. Wainwright), is for the Price Commission, which monitors the net profit margins of these companies under the provisions of the Price Commission Act.
I echo the Minister's condemnation of any attempt to sell under false pretences. Nevertheless, will he not agree that the practice could be made much more acceptable if those engaged upon it were to wear some sort of identification so that members of the public who were approached were not under the misapprehension that they were answering questions in a genuine research inquiry?
I do not think that we have any powers to hang labels around attractive girls with clip-boards in the street. [An HON. MEMBER: "Why not?"] It would be best to bring a complete end to what is a deceitful practice and an abuse of trust.