HC Deb 06 March 1956 vol 549 cc1905-6
15. Mr. G. Darling

asked the Minister of Labour how many adult male wage earners were getting less than £10 17s. 5d. per week in April, 1955.

Mr. Iain Macleod

I regret that the information is not available.

Mr. Darling

Can the Minister tell us how an average is prepared if the Minister and the people who prepare the average do not know the figures to add up in order to get the average? Surely the figure that was trotted out by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in answer to a Question on 21st February was completely misleading the House?

Mr. Macleod

Not at all, Sir. The explanation is simple. First we collect information from employers about the aggregate wage bills, and, secondly, the number of employees covered by them. It is fairly simple, therefore, to deduce the average wage. What I cannot do, which the hon. Gentleman asked me to do, is to say into which brackets various numbers of people fall.

Mr. Darling

In view of that unsatisfactory Answer, I beg to give notice that I shall try to raise this matter on the Adjournment.

19. Captain Pilkington

asked the Minister of Labour the amount by which wages have been increased so far this year; and whether he will make an estimate of the effect of this on the cost of living.

Mr. Iain Macleod

Changes in rates of wages reported to have come into operation during January resulted in an aggregate increase estimated at about £731,000 in the weekly full-time wages of about 1,992,000 workers. Fuller details of these increases will be found in the February issue of the Ministry of Labour Gazette. Figures of increases since January are not yet available. I regret that I have no means of estimating how these increases will affect the cost of living.

Captain Pilkington

Can my right hon. Friend see any end to this vicious spiral of higher wages increasing the cost of living and an increasing cost of living leading to higher wages?

Mr. Macleod

It is largely the chicken and the egg argument, but most people realise that the two are very closely related and that a period of stability in both would be of enormous help to the country.

Mr. Lee

Would the right hon. Gentleman inform his hon. and gallant Friend that this is a rather theoretical reply, and that in fact the Government have succeeded in reducing wages for many thousands of people in the Midlands in the course of the last few months?

Mr. Isaacs

Can the Minister say whether the figures he has quoted in referring to wages were of wage rates or actual earnings made up by extra hours worked?

Mr. Macleod

Changes in rates of wages.