HC Deb 19 April 1955 vol 540 cc7-8
14. Mr. Dodds

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much of the increase in national expenditure on food from the beginning of 1952 to the latest convenient date was due to higher prices, and how much to greater volume of consumption.

Sir E. Boyle

Of the increase of 16 per cent. in consumers' expenditure on food between 1952 and 1954, nearly half-representing a rise of 7 per cent.—was an increase in volume and the rest a rise in prices. Figures for the early part of 1955 are not yet available, and comparisons between periods of less than a full year would be misleading because of the considerable seasonal variations.

Mr. Dodds

Is this not an even worse revelation than the previous one, in that seven-eighths of this increase is due to an increase in prices? Is not the hon. Gentleman aware that, according to the last statement on this matter, £600 million was the increase in expenditure, of which only £75 million represented an increase in actual food consumption?

Sir E. Boyle

What I will admit is that between 1951 and now the standard of living of the average weekly wage-earner in this country has risen considerably, whereas it fell between 1947 and 1951.

Mr. Osborne

Is it not true that a large proportion of the increase in price is due to an increase in quality?

Mr. Shinwell

With regard to the hon. Gentleman's reference to wages having risen, does he think that because his wages have risen the wages of everybody else have risen too?

Sir E. Boyle

What I said wa5 that the standard of living in this country has risen.

Mr. Nicolson

Is there not something rather pathetic about the efforts of the hon. Member for Dartford (Mr. Dodds) to tell the people of this country that they are worse off under Conservatism?

Mr. Woodburn

Will the hon Gentleman say whether his answer to my right hon. Friend's question means that it is the Government's view that the cost of living in this country has been coming down?

Sir E. Boyle

What I said was that the standard of living has been going up.