Food Prices and Food Poverty

Part of Opposition Day — [Un-allotted Day] – in the House of Commons at 4:20 pm on 23rd January 2012.

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Photo of Mary Creagh Mary Creagh Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs 4:20 pm, 23rd January 2012

I beg to move,

That this House
notes that food prices rose by more than 4 per cent. over the last year and that an increasing number of families are relying on foodbanks;
is dismayed at Government delays to the Groceries Code Adjudicator and that it has rejected recommendations by the Business, Innovation and Skills Committee and Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee to give it teeth;
believes that the Adjudicator should have the power to fine retailers and that third party organisations should be able to report retailers for unfair practices;
calls on the Government to bring forward proposals for the Groceries Code Adjudicator early in the next Parliament to ensure fairness across the food supply chain;
and further calls on the Government to work with the retail sector to provide more responsible, transparent price promotions and clearer unit pricing to offer genuine value-for-money for consumers.

I am sure that hon. Members on both sides of the House will do their best to abide by your strictures, Mr Speaker.

On Friday, I visited a food bank in Bradford and met people who use its services. One woman had fled her violent husband when she was eight months pregnant. Another had left her husband but discovered that he had set up loans in their joint names for which she was still liable. There were women there who had held down high-powered jobs—one had been the personal assistant to the chief executive of a large bank in Canary Wharf—but, through a combination of bad decisions, bad luck and bad men, they had fallen on hard times.

One of the women apologised for not following politics, but said that she could not afford a television licence. Another described how she had found herself shouting at her children when they asked for a bit of jam on their bread, and how she visited relatives at teatime to ensure that her children were fed, while she herself went to bed hungry. Another described cooking tea for her children and eating their leftover food. One woman told me how, the first time she brought home a food parcel, she cried all night because she could not do something as basic as feed her own children.