The SNP has been accused of “communism” after proposing to cap the price of staple foods to combat the cost-of-living crisis.

UK good and farming minister Mark Spencer warned controlling markets in such a way does not work, would “drive up prices”, and is “in effect, communism”.

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

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

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SNP MP for Livingston, Hannah Bardell, 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?”

Mr 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.”

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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.

“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?”

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Mr Spencer said: “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.”