A TORY minister has dismissed the SNP's calls for price caps on staple foods as "communism".

Food and farming minister Mark Spencer argued controlling markets did not work, would “drive up prices”, and was “in effect, communism”.

SNP Westminster leader Stephen Flynn called on the UK to follow the example of France and cap food prices in supermarkets for “basic daily essentials" when speaking at his party’s conference at the weekend.

The SNP put the proposal to the Government at a session of questions to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs ministers in Westminster on Thursday.

SNP MP Hannah Bardell, the MP for Livingston, said: “Folk are struggling more than ever and that’s why the SNP has called on the UK Government to control supermarket price gauging amid record profiteering and introduce a price cap on staples like bread and milk.

“Will he now help all of our constituents and get on and do that?”

Spencer responded: “If you look around Europe at the price of a shopping basket compared to here in the UK, the free market is actually doing a lot of work to suppress the cost of inflation of food.

“So we have a cheaper food basket than they do in France and in Germany. And she is advocating, in effect, communism.

“I say to her to look around the world at how that works – control of those marketplaces does not work.”

'Cost of Westminster crisis' 

SNP environment spokesperson Steven Bonnar said there was a “cost-of-Westminster crisis that has been inflicted upon us all by the Tory party”.

He said the cost of a loaf of wholemeal bread is up 20%, adding: “We know that it’s not the farmers who are benefitting from this.

“The price of milk in supermarkets today is almost twice what we are paying the farmers for their product.

READ MORE: Jacob Rees-Mogg prompts fury from farmers union over Australian beef

“So why won’t the Government and the Secretary of State consider price caps to prevent the supermarkets profiteering and to help ensure basic essentials are not beyond the reach of many?”

Spencer responded: “We’ve done an enormous amount of work in this area to help and support primary producers and farmers.

“We’re going to legislate in the dairy sector to make sure those contracts are fair and we get fairness across the supply chain.

“But what he’s advocating for is control of market prices. The effect of that would have exactly the opposite effect of what he wants to achieve and drive up prices across the country and we’d end up in a far worse place.”

Hormone-injected Aussie beef

The minister also told the Commons that the Prime Minister will not accept hormone-injected beef in the UK as a result of trade deals with other nations.

Conservative former Cabinet minister Jacob Rees-Mogg (below) recently suggested he favoured the import of hormone-injected beef from Australia, drawing the ire of farmers in his constituency.

The National: Jacob Rees-Mogg

Labour’s shadow environment minister Daniel Zeichner told the Commons: “To maintain that healthy, sustainable food system, farmers need a level playing field.

“So when (Rees-Mogg) made his recent comments about the benefits of importing hormone-injected beef it sent a shudder through the industry.”

He added: “Because this time last year, he was at the very top of Government alongside the Secretary of State.

"So can the minister, from his long experience in Government, tell us how many others at the top of his Government harbour this private view?”

Spencer responded: “The gentleman at the top of Government, the Prime Minister, has been absolutely clear on this – he was absolutely explicit that we will not accept hormone-produced beef at any point in the future, nor will we accept chlorinated chicken.

“He has the back of British farmers and their support, and he will do everything he can to help and support them.”