HC Deb 27 March 1956 vol 550 cc1968-9
45. Mr. P. Williams

asked the Prime Minister whether he will make a statement on the recent series of discussions he has had with leaders of industry.

46. Mr. Ernest Davies

asked the Prime Minister if he will make a statement on his recent meetings with the representatives of the Federation of British Industries and of the nationalised industries.

The Prime Minister (Sir Anthony Eden)

The series of meetings which my colleagues and I have held with representatives of the Trades Union Congress, the British Employers' Confederation, the Federation of British Industries and the chairmen of the nationalised industries have given us a useful opportunity to discuss the general economic situation. Statements have been made after each of these meetings and I would not wish to add to them here. The value of such meetings lies in their informal character, and anything in the nature of a general commentary would not be appropriate.

It is my intention to seek an opportunity to carry these discussions further.

Mr. Williams

While welcoming the Prime Minister's statement and his initiative in this matter, may I ask him whether he is aware that one of the greatest causes of inflation is the total failure of the nationalised industries to do anything to curtail price rises; and whether he will make some statement on the efforts which he personally is making to see that the nationalised industries run, first, less unprofitably, and, secondly, do something to create price stability?

The Prime Minister

With respect to my hon. Friend, I am afraid that he is getting a little ahead of the Order Paper—the next Question.

Mr. Davies

Will the Prime Minister give an undertaking to the House that he did not make any greater demands on the nationalised industries than he made on the privately-owned industries; and, in view of the fact that the Government have persuaded the Transport Commission not to increase its charges sufficiently to meet the costs, will he equally persuade private industry not to raise prices, even if the failure to raise them results in a fall in profits and a reduction in dividends?

The Prime Minister

I think that if the hon. Member looks at the statement made after our discussion with the British Employers' Confederation he will find that a large part of his question is met. So far as the nationalised industries are concerned, there is a Question on the Order Paper—the very next one—on the subject, and I do not think that I ought to anticipate it.