HC Deb 13 May 1948 vol 450 cc2276-7
53. Sir Patrick Hannon

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on the response to his appeal for the stabilisation and reduction of dividends and prices made through the conjoint effort of the Federation of British Industries, the National Union of Manufacturers and the British Association of Chambers of Commerce.

The Economic Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Douglas Jay)

It is not possible as yet to make any further statement on this matter, or to evaluate the response which has been made to the Chancellor's request for a reduction in prices. If the organisations concerned would publish the lists of reductions which have taken place the public would then be able to form their own opinion.

Sir P. Hannon

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the organisations concerned are doing everything possible to respond to the Chancellor's appeal? If I put another Question after the Recess, rimy I have a reply then?

Mr. Jay

I hope it will be possible to make a statement later.

Major Bruce

When will my hon. Friend be able to inform the House of his opinion about this matter, because there is an impression that the response so far has not been too satisfactory in many cases?

Mr. Jay

I could not say, precisely.

Mr. David Eccles

As a number of British companies operating outside the United Kingdom are concerned with the development of raw materials, and badly need fresh capital, does the hon. Gentleman think they should observe the dividend restriction, or would it not be better, in the interests of everybody, that they should pursue the ordinary course of business?

Mr. Jay

We hope that dividend restriction will be general, but that is really a separate question.

Mr. Edgar Granville

Have not the overwhelming majority of companies responded to the invitation of the Government? Have they not made it absolutely clear to the F.B.I. and the Government that they are willing and ready to cooperate on a voluntary basis?

Mr. Jay

A large number of them have, but I doubt whether they are the overwhelming majority.

Sir W. Wakefield

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that certain Government Departments have recently put up their prices? How does he expect companies and public bodies to reduce their prices, when the Government do exactly the opposite.

Colonel Stoddart-Scott

Is it not very difficult for the public to judge, when Purchase Tax has been increased on many household and other articles and when subsidies have been taken off certain articles, and prices have increased in spite of the fact that manufacturers have decreased their prices?

Mr. Jay

Surely the hon. and gallant Member realises that the Purchase Tax has been increased only on luxury or semi-luxury articles and goods. In reply to the hon. Member for St. Marylebone (Sir W. Wakefield), it was recognised in the White Paper on Personal Incomes, Costs and Prices that there might be some cases where a rise both in wages and prices would be justified.