HC Deb 21 November 1949 vol 470 cc24-5
47. Sir W. Smithers

asked the Prime Minister to state in tabular form the results to date of his appeal to the nation in February, 1948, to restrict dividends and wages.

The Prime Minister

No, Sir. It is not possible in tabular form to give a true indication of the results of the Government's White Paper policy although, in fact, the response to my appeal has been most satisfactory. I am well satisfied with the co-operation which the Government has so far received from both sides of industry in this matter.

Sir W. Smithers

Is the Prime Minister aware that since he made his appeal the "Economic Bulletin," a Treasury publication, has stated that 91 per cent. of the companies have not increased dividends? Is he also aware that since that appeal, wages have risen on an annual basis by £135 million a year? Does not that prove that this weak Government cannot stand up to their paymasters—the trade unions?

The Prime Minister

No, Sir. I very much deprecate this attempt to play off one side against the other when both sides are co-operating. The hon. Member should realise that there were a number of claims which were already in, when that statement was made, which came to arbitration and in which increases were awarded. It is quite true, I am glad to say, that a very high percentage of dividends have not been increased, but in my view, both sides have made great efforts.

Mr. R. Chamberlain

If the hon. Member for Orpington (Sir W. Smithers) wants a true picture, will he not also ask for the figure of undistributed profits, which are an addition to the property of the recipients of dividends and in reference to which there is no corresponding figure in workers' wages?