HC Deb 12 February 1953 vol 511 cc586-8
31. Mr. Osborne

asked the President of the Board of Trade the approximate average fall in the price of textiles since price controls were abolished.

Mr. P. Thorneycroft

No single price index for textiles as a whole is available but there has been a steady fall in prices since the summer of 1951. Latest available figures for clothing show that retail prices have fallen by about 4½ per cent. since the price control of Utility textiles was ended in March, 1952. Manufacturers' prices of clothing have fallen by about 9 per cent. since that date.

Mr. Osborne

Since the consumer has been obtaining better value at cheaper prices since these controls were removed. would not my right hon. Friend look at other controls in the interest of the consumer to find out whether more cannot be taken off?

Mr. Thorneycroft

It is our policy to remove any control which we do not think necessary and in this field we have removed a number of controls with beneficial effect.

Mr. Edelman

Will the right hon. Gentleman confirm that there has been a fall in the total volume of wages because of unemployment since price controls were removed?

Mr. Thomeycroft

This Question refers to the effect of the removal of price control on the consumer.

Mr. Jay

Does the right hon. Gentleman contribute this fall in prices to decontrol or to the seller's market, to which he referred just now, and the lower prices for raw materials?

Mr. Thorneycroft

As the right hon. Gentleman knows, the fall in prices is due to a very large number of factors, but to have attempted to retain price control on a falling market would have been a very stupid policy to pursue.

Mr. Hale

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that gross production in the cotton textile industry now stands at about 17 or 18 per cent. less than it was in October, 1951? Is he aware that that is the material figure by which the success of his policy should be judged?

Mr. Thorneycroft

I am fully aware of, and have not sought to disguise, the many difficulties which confront the textile industry, but this Question referred to whether consumers were now paying less for their purchases than they did before. They are paying less.

Mr. D. Brook

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that since the price of wool has been decontrolled the price of crossbred wool has risen from 60d. to 200d. per lb. and is now back at 60d.? Is not that really the reason why this variation in price has taken place?

Mr. Thorneycroft

There has been a steady fall in the prices of the general range of textiles since price controls were removed. As has been pointed out, many factors were involved.