HC Deb 20 January 1953 vol 510 cc6-7
11. Mr. H. Hynd

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer the purchasing value of the £ sterling at the latest available date as compared with its purchasing power in October, 1951.

44. Lieut.-Colonel Lipton

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer by how much the purchasing power of the £ sterling has varied since October, 1951.

Mr. R. A. Butler

Taking the figure for October, 1951, as 20s., the corresponding figure for December, 1952, was 18s. 7d. This answer is based on the Interim Index of Retail Prices of the Ministry of Labour.

Mr. Hynd

Is the Chancellor aware that his reply will give great dissatisfaction to the many unfortunate people who voted Conservative in the hope that the figure would go the other way?

Mr. Butler

If the hon. Gentleman will look a little backwards and take the previous year from October, 1950, to October, 1951, based on exactly the same basis and certainly on the same calculation, he will see that the figure was 17s. 10d. under his Government as compared with 18s. 7d. under the Conservative Government.

Lieut.-Colonel Lipton

Is the Chancellor aware that this cut of more than 7 per cent. in the value of the £ which has taken place since the present Government took office represents a very real hardship, and puts the housewife in the position of finding that the domestic budget cannot be balanced?

Mr. Lewis

Can the Chancellor explain why there should be this depreciation in the purchasing value of the £, particularly, as we all know, when world prices are falling and have been falling rapidly, as against the price increases when the Labour Government were in office? Will he do something to mend the hole in the pocket?

Mr. Butler

I have already indicated in an answer to an earlier Question, that the cost of living has risen by only half a point between the Budget and December of last year, which is a very great improvement on the record of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite. I can only say that we intended, and that we intend, to tackle the cost of living. We have had a certain degree of success and we intend to go forward.

Lieut.-Colonel Lipton

The figure is 7 per cent. down.