HC Deb 26 April 1955 vol 540 cc744-5
9. Mr. Dodds

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer the percentage trend of world prices and United Kingdom import prices from 1950 to 1954, taking 1950 as 100.

Mr. R. A. Butler

The index of average values of United Kingdom imports, published in the Monthly Digest of Statistics, rose by 14 per cent. from 1950 to 1954. The index of average values is obtained by comparing the actual value of trade in 1954 with its estimated value at 1950 prices. Changes in the index are therefore affected by changes in the composition of trade as well as by changes in prices, so that the index gives only an approximate measure of changes in prices. I regret that no appropriate index of world prices exists which can reasonably be compared with the average values of United Kingdom imports.

Mr. Dodds

How can the Chancellor give that answer now, when on 24th November last he gave the figures for which I ask, which appear in column 145 of the OFFICIAL REPORT of that date? Do not these figures illustrate the tremendous handicap suffered by the Labour Government in 1951 and the tremendous advantages which have been enjoyed by this Government? Does not the right hon. Gentleman appreciate that it is all the more difficult to understand why the Government have failed so completely to keep their pledge to reduce the cost of living?

Mr. Butler

It so happens that in composing this reply I followed the lines of a reply made to the right hon. Member for Clackmannan (Mr. Woodburn) on 8th February, 1955, and the further reply given upon 24th November last, to which the hon. Member has referred—so I do not think that I am doing anything really original.

Mr. Stokes

In order that we may have all these matters considered together, will the Chancellor state the fall in the United Kingdom import index between the autumn of 1951 and 1954?

Mr. Butler

If the right hon. Gentleman will put down a Question in that form, I will give him the exact figure.