HC Deb 08 November 1939 vol 353 cc207-8
45. Miss Ward

asked the Prime Minister whether, in order to break the vicious circle of the increase of prices, increase of the cost of living followed by an increase of wages to meet the situation, he will consider creating machinery to stabilise the present level of prices and to arrange for Governmental purchase of all essential commodities to be imported?

The Prime Minister

This subject is one of considerable concern to the Government and to the country generally, and there will be general agreement that all possible steps should be taken to avoid the vicious circle to which my hon. Friend refers. Many essential commodities, including most of the important foods and foodstuffs, are already being purchased directly by the Government and others will be covered by the powers sought in the Prices of Goods Bill. Stability of prices, so far as is possible, will be aimed at, but it must be recognised that the practical difficulties of maintaining it are very considerable. As regards the suggestion that any increase in the cost of imports should be borne by the Exchequer, I would refer my hon. Friend to the answer given by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Supply on 17th October to a similar question by the hon. Member for Middlesbrough, East (Mr. A. Edwards).

Mr. Cassells

Does not the right hon. Gentleman appreciate that having regard to this question and the answer, rationing at the present time is absolutely imperative?