HC Deb 11 August 1919 vol 119 cc887-8
95. Mr. BRIGGS

asked the Minister of Labour if he is aware of the dissatisfaction which exists amongst workers whose wages vary according to the fluctuations in the cost of living, as shown in the monthly returns of the "Labour Gazette," they considering the figures of the "Gazette" at variance with the facts and not provable in actual practice, and, as some trade unionists have declared their intention not to carry out their agreements based upon these figures, will he state on what evidence the calculations are formed; will he cause investigation to be made as to their reliability; and will he announce the result of his investigations in an early issue of the "Labour Gazette," and thereby secure the so necessary confidence of both workers and employers in the figures upon which most agreements between them are to-day founded?


I am aware that some workpeople whose wages vary with fluctuation in the prices index numbers given in the "Labour Gazette" have regarded the decrease shown by those figures in the early part of this year as being at variance with their experience, but I have examined the question of reductions in the price indices, and find that the decline in the figures up to the beginning of June was justified by the reductions in food prices which had been made up to that date. Since then there has been an increase in prices which was shown by the statistics published in the latest issue of the "Labour Gazette" (that for July), and which is continuing. As regards the reliability of the figures published monthly in the "Labour Gazette," they were the subject of a thorough investigation last year by Lord Sumner's Committee on the Cost of Living, who reported that there was every reason to suppose they were accurate and adequate for their purpose.


In view of the fact that a Manchester group of trade unionists have threatened to strike unless they are satisfied that the figures in the "Labour Gazette" are correct, and shown to be based upon actual practice, will the Minister of Labour publish his reply to my question in the next issue of the "Gazette"?


I will make inquiries.