HC Deb 21 April 1959 vol 604 cc190-3
3. Captain Pilkington

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he will make a statement on the progress made since 1954 towards doubling the standard of living by 1979.

5. Mr. H. Wilson

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what estimate he has made of the annual percentage increase in industrial production, from 1954, which was necessary to reach the Government's target of doubling the standard of living by 1979, the cumulative percentage increase required from 1954 to 1959, and the actual percentage increase achieved from 1954 to the latest available date.

11. Mr. H. Hynd

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he will make a statement on the progress made since 1954 towards doubling the standard of living by 1979.

33. Mr. Jay

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he will make a statement on the progress made since 1954 towards doubling the standard of living by 1979

Mr. Amory

Between 1954 and 1958 industrial production per head has risen by an average of 1.1 per cent. per annum. I cannot compute what percentage increase of industrial production would be necessary to reach the target of doubling the standard of living in 25 years, as there are other factors involved.

The average annual increase in consumption per head over the four year period has been 1.8 per cent.

Probably the best statistical definition of the standard of living is the level of real personal disposable income per head. Between 1954 and 1958 this has risen by 2.7 per cent. per annum, which is very nearly at the level of 2.8 per cent. per annum which would be required as an average to produce a doubling in 25 years. The difference between this figure of 2.7 per cent. and the 1.8 per cent. for consumption is accounted for by the very large increase in personal saving which took place between 1954 and 1958.

Over this short period, on these facts I would regard progress to date as reasonably satisfactory, particularly as national investment has been running at very high levels.

Captain Pilkington

Although I suppose it possible that a few Socialist speakers may try to "crab" the progress made, is my right hon. Friend aware that he should be warmly congratulated on both sides of the House? He has not, however, made any reference to the increase in such amenities as television and motor cars. Will he say something about those?

Mr. Amory

I have not the figures with me, but if my hon. and gallant Friend will put down a Question I will certainly be glad to give him the information. It would, I think, reflect a steady increase in the standard of living.

Mr. Wilson

Even if the Chancellor cannot find anyone to do his sums for him, have not statisticians generally agreed that an increase in industrial production of something rather less than 3 per cent. compound is required to achieve this particular target? Is not the figure of 1.1 per cent., as a result of the virtual stagnation for the last three years, a very disappointing contribution towards the target to which the right hon. Gentleman refers? Further, would he not accept that in his figures of disposable income per head there has been this very remarkable windfall gain in terms of trade which he or any other Chancellor cannot count on year after year?

Mr. Amory

I am here dealing with facts, and the facts which I have given show quite conclusively that the standard of living, measured by what is the best measure of the standard of living—and the right hon. Gentleman will find it extremely difficult to quarrel with it—real personal disposable income, has risen by 2.7 per cent. on the average each year over this period.

Mr. Jay

As the Chancellor is dealing with facts, if the alleged extra income has not come from more production, will he tell us from where it has come?

Mr. Amory

It has arisen in a great number of ways. I cannot give the right hon. Gentleman that information now. As he knows, a host of things come into the assessment of the standard of living. This is a measurement of what is the final result when all the factors have been taken into account.

Mr. Hynd

As the Board of Trade Index of Food Prices has risen from 232 to 275 since 1954, is it more more likely that if the Government should unfortunately remain in office it will be the cost of living that will have doubled by 1974?

Mr. Amory

I do not think that any hon. Gentleman opposite would be very wise in raising questions affecting the cost of living.

Mr. Gresham Cooke

Would my right hon. Friend agree that if hon. Members opposite were in power and had their way they would so inflate the economy that they would run us into a balance of payments crisis?

Mr. Amory

I think that that consequence would be quite unavoidable.

Mr. Jay

Can the Chancellor give us one other source from which this income has come other than increased production?

Mr. Amory

One is additional production other than industrial production.