HC Deb 25 November 1920 vol 135 cc640-1
41. Colonel NEWMAN

asked the Prime Minister whether he is aware that, in spite of the pronounced fall during the past two months in the price of raw and manufactured materials, with the exception of wheat which is controlled by Government, the official statisticians of the Labour Ministry are able to record an advance in the average level of food, clothing, fuel and light; and will he appoint a Select Committee to investigate the methods by which these official figures are arrived at?

The MINISTER of LABOUR (Dr. Macnamara)

I have been asked to reply. I am aware that the wholesale prices of some commodities, such as textile raw materials and cotton cloth, have shown a decline during the past two or three months, and this decline has already been partly reflected in the Ministry of Labour figures as to clothing prices, which showed a slight fall on average during October. The rise in the index number is due mainly, however, to the recent increase in the price of bread, and partly to increases in the cost of certain items of working-class expenditure, such as milk, eggs, rents and workmen's fares, which are included in the Ministry of Labour index numbers but are not included in some of the well-known wholesale prices index numbers. I am advised I can add nothing to the answer already given as to a Committee.

Commander BELLAIRS

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware of the very serious effects arising from a reliance on these index numbers, and that a committee reported that they were exaggerated?


My hon. and gallant Friend no doubt is referring to the Summer Report; but I cannot recall that they made that observation.

Colonel NEWMAN

Would the right hon. Gentleman remember what the Committee says about the inaccuracy of these figures?