HC Deb 21 April 1959 vol 604 cc211-2
32. Mrs. Mann

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will state the increase in consumer expenditure of 1958 over that of 1957; how much of this increase is due to increased prices; and how much is necessitated by reduced contents of food and non-food commodities sold in tubes, packets, tins, boxes and other containers.

Mr. Amory

Consumers' expenditure increased by 5 per cent. between 1957 and 1958. One half of this increase is attributable to increases in prices. Changes in the contents of packaged goods are taken into account in calculating price changes, but their effect cannot be separately estimated.

Mrs. Mann

Is not the right hon. Gentleman aware that the method of compilation of the cost-of-living index figure is completely outmoded in this "pre-packed" age? Is he aware that this is an age when people know the price of everything and the value of nothing and that the stability of prices is now outmoded as a measuring rod of the cost of living? Will the right hon. Gentleman introduce the Hodgson proposal on weight or revise the compilation method?

Mr. Amory

Any question which the hon. Lady raises about weights and measures should be put to my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade, and any question about the improvement of the Index of Retail Prices should be referred to my right hon Friend the Minister of Labour.

Mr. Gaitskell

Does the right hon. Gentleman say how much of the real increase in consumption—the 2½ per cent. —was made possible by any increase in production and how much of it was at the expense of stocks?

Mr. Amory

I could not without notice, but if the right hon. Gentleman puts a Question to me I will give him the fullest information that I can.