HC Deb 06 February 1951 vol 483 cc1534-5
57. Mr. Osborne

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if, in view of the danger of inflation and of the evils that would result from it, he will appeal to both employees and the trade unions to reimpose the wage and dividend freeze for the next two years.

Mr. Gaitskell

I think that the attitude of His Majesty's Government in this matter has already been made quite clear in a number of recent pronouncements, namely, that great restraint continues to be necessary both in regard to wage claims and to dividend payments.

Mr. Osborne

Is not the Chancellor aware that there are large wage increases due in the next few months, that dividend increases have been made recently, and that both these things tend to make inflation come nearer and will sabotage the National Savings Movement; and cannot the right hon. Gentleman do anything more about it?

Mr. Gaitskell

I think that the hon. Member would probably agree that I have myself expressed the views of the Government on a number of occasions. This is not an easy or straightforward matter, and it is no good rushing into it expecting to get an easy solution, but we shall keep in touch with both sides of industry on this problem and try to do everything we can to prevent any inflationary influence.

Mrs. Braddock

Would my right hon. Friend intimate to local authorities that it has been very provocative, particularly in the Liverpool area, that salaries to town clerks, treasurers, directors of housing, etc., have been raised by between £20 and £25 a week, and that this is very provocative as far as the dockers are concerned in the Liverpool area?

Mr. Eccles

Would it not have been better to tackle the inflation at the root rather than to reimpose these controls?

Mr. Gaitskell

I am all in favour of using every possible method of dealing with inflation. In reply to my hon. Friend, this is really a matter for my right hon. Friend the Minister of Health, but there is a limit to what a Minister can do in the way of giving directions to local authorities.

Mrs. Braddock

On a point of order. Mr. Speaker. May I have your assistance? My right hon. Friend has said that this is a matter for the Minister of Health. We are informed that the Minister of Health has nothing to do with it. Can we have your assistance in this matter?

Mr. Speaker

I cannot answer that, because I know nothing at all about it.

Mr. Gaitskell

I beg your pardon, Mr. Speaker. I should have said, my right hon. Friend the Minister of Local Government and Planning.