§ 31. Sir W. Smithers
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer the purchasing power of the £ at the latest available date taking June, 1948, 1949, 1950, 1951 and 1952 as 20s., respectively.
§ Mr. R. A. Butler
On the basis of the figure for May, 1953, in the Ministry of Labour Interim Index of Retail Prices, which is the only official price index available monthly, the answers are respectively 15s. 7d., 15s. 10d., 16s. 2d., 17s. 9d. and 19s. 7d.
§ Sir W. Smithers
Will the Chancellor warn the country and himself before it is too late that increases in taxes, rates and wages can result only in a vicious spiral and a further depreciation of the paper £, and that in a country which cannot be self-supporting they must increase our cost of production and impede or destroy our ability to export at world competitive prices, which we must do or starve?
§ Mr. Butler
I accept the personal warning from my hon. Friend. With regard to the national impact, I hope attention will be paid to my hon. Friend's words.
§ Mr. Bottomley
Would the right hon. Gentleman agree that a £ worth 20s. in October, 1951, is today worth only 18s. 7d.?
§ Mr. Butler
I do not think things are quite as simple as that. If the right hon. Gentleman will study this Question and then put down a further Question to me, we may get it straight.