HC Deb 19 June 1956 vol 554 cc1209-10
6. Mr. Lewis

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he is aware that, due to the continued rise in the cost of living, many trade unions in a number of industries have, since 31st May, tabled wage claims affecting thousands of workers; and, as these increases, when granted, will again increase the cost of our commodities and thereby the cost of living, whether he will now announce the Government's plan for stabilising and reducing the cost of living.

Mr. H. Macmillan

As I have made clear on several occasions, our best hope for stabilising and reducing the cost of living is that both sides in industry should exercise the utmost restraint in their demands for increases in their money incomes. I feel sure I can rely on the hon. Gentleman's help in making this clear to all concerned.

Mr. Lewis

If the Chancellor can rely on the hon. Member, can the hon. Member rely on the Chancellor and the Government to see to it that they do not take any positive action—as they have done for the last five years—deliberately to increase the cost of living and thus compel trade unions to ask for more money for their members?

Mr. Macmillan

This prospect of mutual reliance between the hon. Member and myself is one I very much welcome and this new coalition will mark a great advance.

Mr. Jay

Does the right hon. Gentleman think it reasonable to take all control off prices, profits, dividends and building and then to ask for wage restraint?

Mr. Macmillan

It was the right hon. Gentlemen opposite who made a bonfire of controls.