HC Deb 25 November 1937 vol 329 cc1384-5
18. Major-General Sir Alfred Knox

asked the Minister of Labour what is the index figure for the cost of food and coal, respectively, in the wage-earners' budget for November, 1937, as compared with July, 1914?

Mr. E. Brown

At 1st November, the official cost-of-living index number showed average increases, as compared with July, 1914, of 46 per cent. in the retail prices of food and of approximately 95 per cent. in the retail prices of coal. Comparative figures as to the prices in July, 1914, and at 1st November, 1937, of each of the principal articles of food are given on page 454 of the November issue of the "Ministry of Labour Gazette."

Sir A. Knox

Are we to understand from that reply that the rise in the price of coal to the poor consumer has been more than double the rise in the price of food during the last 23 years, and can the right hon. Gentleman state the reason for that?

Mr. Brown

My hon. and gallant Friend will realise that there has been an improvement in the coal industry during the last two years.

Sir A. Knox

Is it not partly because the Government are tinkering with the industry?

Mr. Paling

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that in spite of the rise in the price of coal, the average wage of miners is only slightly over 10s. a day, even now?