HC Deb 21 November 1950 vol 481 cc176-7
21. Sir Ian Fraser

asked the Minister of Labour if he will give the House a formula which will enable comparison to be made between the interim index of retail prices and the old cost-of-living index which it replaced.

The Minister of Labour (Mr. Isaacs)

The former cost-of-living index was calculated with reference to living habits of 1914, and it was abandoned in 1947 because this limited and out-of-date basis had ceased to be appropriate for the purpose of measuring changes in prices under current living conditions. The present index is radically different from the former cost-of-living index, both in its scope and in its method of construction, and it is not possible to arrive at satisfactory long-term comparisons of price levels by linking these two indices.

Sir I. Fraser

But does the right hon. Gentleman recall that an earlier Minister of Pensions made a promise that if under the old index the figure reached a certain point, then a rise in the basic rate would be granted? It is therefore a matter of interest and justice for three quarters of a million ex-Service men to have some method of judging whether that promise ought now to be implemented.

Mr. Isaacs

I must plead ignorance of the point to which the hon. Gentleman referred. I will look it up and see if there is anything in that which comes within my jurisdiction.

Sir I. Fraser

Will the Minister try to find a way in which satisfaction can be given in judging the two standards?

Mr. Isaacs

That is a matter which was not brought out in the original Question. I have promised to look into this point raised by the supplementary question of the hon. Gentleman, and I must leave it at that.

Colonel J. R. H. Hutchison

Would not the right hon. Gentleman agree that the new cost-of-living index must also be out of date, as would be any index which shows—

Mr. Speaker

The hon. and gallant Member is not asking for information, but expressing an opinion, which is not in order on supplementary questions.

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