HC Deb 22 June 1950 vol 476 c1457
22. Mr. Dodds-Parker

asked the President of the Board of Trade why he has chosen 1947 as the base year against which to calculate relative productivity in trade and industry.

Mr. H. Wilson

I assume that the hon. Member is referring to the recent change from 1938 to 1947 as the base year of the index numbers measuring the volume of United Kingdom imports and exports. The change to a post-war year was necessary because the continued use of a system of weights based on pre-war prices would have distorted the index numbers. The year 1947 was chosen because it was the most recent post-war year for which the detailed trade figures necessary for the calculation were available at the time when the change was initiated.

Mr. Dodds-Parker

As 1947 was the worst of the post-war years, does not the President of the Board of Trade think that it would have been better to wait until the details for, say, 1948 were available rather than use as a base figures which must produce comparisons both misleading and over optimistic?

Mr. Wilson

The year 1946 was, of course, the worst of the post-war years. I agree with the hon. Gentleman that the export drive has continued to progress year by year since the end of the war but, for the reasons I have mentioned, 1947 was taken as the base year.

Mr. Peter Roberts

Why does the right hon. Gentleman want to perpetuate the disastrous record of the present Minister of Defence in the fuel industry, and the present Minister of Town and Country Planning in the Treasury? The year 1947 is not really a good year for this purpose, and why will he not consider 1948?

Mr. Wilson

I would only ask the hon. Gentleman to contemplate what the export figures for 1948, 1949, and 1950 would have been if we had not nationalised the coal mining industry.