HC Deb 28 June 1956 vol 555 cc695-6
51. Mr. Allaun

asked the Prime Minister if, before further requesting trade unionists to forgo wage claims, he will reconsider recent Government measures which are raising the cost of living, such as cuts in the bread and milk subsidy, the imposition of Purchase Tax on necessities, charges on the health service, removal of housing subsidies and higher interest rates on house and school building.

The Prime Minister

No, Sir. There can be no question of reversing these decisions.

Mr. Allaun

Is the Prime Minister aware of the growing feeling among trade unionists that the Government, unable to cut wages directly because of union strength, are securing the result indirectly by deliberately raising rents, food and other prices? Is it reasonable to expect a man you are clouting on the jaw to offer you his wage packet?

The Prime Minister

I think that the hon. Gentleman knows, and the whole House will know, that we are now engaged in trying to steady prices for the future. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] Yes, certainly we are. That is the best way of sustaining the value of wages.

Mr. Jay

Can the Prime Minister explain in simple terms why it helps in the battle against inflation to keep rail and coal charges down and push bread and milk prices up?

The Prime Minister

It is arguable to what extent subsidies form a good permanent part of the economy of the nation.

Mr. John Hall

Is it not a fact that, whereas wages used to chase inflation, we find the curious position now of the inflation chasing after wages?