HC Deb 20 February 1924 vol 169 cc1739-40

asked the Minister of Labour whether it is intended to make any inquiry into the method by which the index figure for the cost of living is arrived at and as to whether it correctly represents the advance in the cost of living as compared with August, 1914?


asked the Minister of Labour if he is aware of the general dissatisfaction with the cost-of-living index figure as calculated by the Labour Ministry and published monthly in the Labour Gazette; and if he will set up a committee of inquiry with the object of obtaining an index more reflective of the actual increase in the cost of living to the average working-class family?


I am aware that the official cost-of-living index figure has often been criticised from different points of view. Criticism may most properly be directed, I think, to the fact that the latest budgets of working-class expenditure, which form part of the basis of the calculations, were collected as long ago as 1904. So long as the object of the index number is as at present to show the changes in the cost of maintaining a pre-War standard, this does not materially affect the accuracy of the calculations; but I think it is essential that a new inquiry into working-class expenditure should be undertaken at the earliest opportunity. Suitable information could not, however, be obtained during the present abnormal conditions of employment, but I propose to institute an inquiry as soon as conditions become sufficiently normal.


asked the Prime Minister whether His Majesty's Government intend to put forward any legislation, or take any measures whatsoever, to prevent the steady increase in the cost of living; and, if so, when this action will be forthcoming?

The PRIME MINISTER (Mr. J. Ramsay MacDonald)

This is a type of question that can be answered only in Debate. Increases in the cost of living are due to many causes, not all of which are within the control of Governments. His Majesty's Government will lose no opportunity to check transactions known as profiteering.

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