HC Deb 29 April 1930 vol 238 cc14-5
13. Mr. A. M. SAMUEL

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he has evidence that the excess shown by the Ministry of Labour index figure of the cost of living for March, 1930, over the index figure of wholesale prices at the same date is one of the causes of the under-consumption of products and merchandise; and, if he has no evidence, will he direct an investigation to be made by his Department?


The range of prices covered by the two index numbers is in the nature of the case, far from similar. The wholesale price index covers classes of goods of importance in the industry of the country, but comparatively negligible in retail trade, and, further, while the former index is based mainly on the prices of raw or simply prepared articles, the latter is concerned with goods ready for use by ultimate consumers, and is largely affected by the course of wages, which has not been parallel to the movement in average wholesale prices. These and other considerations make it difficult to draw any general conclusions from a comparison of the two index figures referred to. But I agree as to the importance of making such investigations as are practicable, and inquiries bearing on some aspects of the matter are already in progress.


When the right hon. Gentleman makes those inquiries, will he have an investigation set on foot to find out the effects of Income Tax on retail prices?


I could not in any way indicate the scope of the inquiry, but I imagine that every consideration will, in fact, be taken into account.


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that since the Colwyn Committee issued its Report, events have shown that Income Tax has the effect of raising retail prices and puts up the cost of living?