HC Deb 16 December 1952 vol 509 cc1177-8
17. Lieut.-Colonel Lipton

asked the President of the Board of Trade why the maximum prices of Axminster and Wilton carpets have been increased by 10 per cent. and 12½ per cent., respectively.

Mr. H. Strauss

Since the Carpets (Maximum Prices) Order, 1951, and the Imported Carpets (Maximum Prices) Order, 1951, were revoked on the 25th April, 1952, there has been a considerable rise in the cost of wool; and this is reflected in the prices to which the hon. and gallant Member refers.

Lieut.-Colonel Lipton

Is the hon. and learned Gentleman aware that at this rate newly-married couples will have to live on bare boards, even if they find lodgings? Is he further aware that more than one responsible carpet manufacturer is of the opinion that the latest increases are both untimely and excessive and might lead to a return to what happened last summer, when carpet workers were working short time?

Mr. Nabarro

Is it not a fact that the principal cause of this increase in price is the fact that dyed woollen carpet yarn—principally from Australia—has increased in cost by 27 per cent. since last June and that many manufacturers cannot continue to produce at a loss?

Mr. Lewis

How can the hon. and learned Gentleman square his answer with the oft-repeated statements of Ministers that the cost of living would drop and that the Tory Government would bring down the prices of these commodities? Is it not directly contradictory to past statements?

Mr. Strauss

In answer to the hon. Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Nabarro), the price of two-fold 50 yellow Axminster woollen yarn was 74.5d. a lb. in May, 1952, and 100d. in November.

Mr. Nabarro

Is not that an increase of much more than 27 per cent.?

Mr. Strauss

I thought that by giving that answer I would comfort my hon. Friend.

Sir H. Williams

Is it not a fact that carpets are cheaper now than they were a year ago?

Mr. Bottomley

Why should there be a rise in the cost of carpets so soon after the increase in the cost of wool? We have always been told that prices do not follow each other immediately in that way. There must be some other reason for the rise.

Mr. Strauss

To some extent I agree with the right hon. Gentleman, but the rise is not immediate. I can give him the figures for all these months. I have the figures month by month. The price was 74.5d. in May and 100d. in November.

Mr. Bottomley

Can the Minister give an assurance that if there is a reduction in the price of wool in three months' time the price of carpets will also come down?

Hon. Members


Mr. Speaker

That question was hypothetical.

Mr. D. Brook

Is it not a fact that on a previous occasion when the price of carpets was fixed and when an Order was made for an advance in their price the Opposition put down a Prayer to annul that Order?