§ 43. Mr. Chapman
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he has considered the recent special statement of the Trades Union Congress, a copy of which has been sent to him, and which is critical of the impact of his economic and financial policy on wage demands; and whether he will make a statement.
§ Mr. R. A. Butler
I assume that the statement referred to by the hon. Gentleman is that which was in the Press on 24th November. I welcome this statement so far as it calls attention to the threat to our balance of payments, full employment and living standards, which is constituted by the process of "incomes" rising faster than prices. I cannot be expected to accept the criticisms of the measures which I have adopted to restrain what the statement describes as "the excessively high level of demand at home."
§ Mr. Chapman
But does not the Chancellor see that his Budget and the extra-budgetary measures recently introduced are making absolutely impossible the position of responsible trade union leaders with their eyes on the dangers of wage demands giving us uncompetitive prices abroad?
§ Mr. Butler
I should have thought that trade union leaders, judging by the tone of this document, are sufficiently robust to stand up to every sort of difficulty. When they reflect that there has been less than a one-point rise in the cost-of-living index due to the Purchase Tax proposals, I do not think it can be said that this is the sole cause of their difficulty.