HC Deb 25 May 1954 vol 528 cc186-7
13. Mr. Willey

asked the Minister of Labour what factors have caused the rise of two points in the cost-of-living index during the past two months.

Mr. Watkinson

The rise of one point between February and March was due mainly to increases in the prices of butter, cheese, eggs, tea, potatoes, tomatoes and cooking apples. The rise of one point between March and April was due mainly to higher prices for cabbage, tomatoes, fish and cooking apples and to higher local rates in England and Wales, these increases being partly offset by lower prices for eggs.

Mr. Willey

Will the hon. Gentleman send a copy of his reply to the Minister of Food and elicit from him more active co-operation in keeping the cost of living stable?

Mr. Watkinson

I think that the hon. Gentleman quite misunderstands the function of my Department, which is to produce the facts bearing on the interim retail prices index.

Mr. G. Jeger

Is it not a fact that the cost-of-living index, for the compilation of which the Minister accepts responsibility, is now higher than ever?

Mr. Gower

Is it not significant that rises of one point and one point should now arouse such attention, whilst a few years ago much larger rises were taken as a matter of course?

Mr. Watkinson

I quite understand that when the index figure is going up hon. Members opposite think that the index is very accurate, but that when the figure is going down they think that it is not so accurate. But to place the facts on record, as I was asked by the hon. Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey), comparing this month with the same month 12 months ago the all-items index is only one point up and the food component of the index, in which the hon. Member was so interested, stands at 112.6 compared with 112.5 in April 12 months ago.

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