HC Deb 09 July 1959 vol 608 cc1545-6
21. Mr. Sparks

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will show in table form by what percentage and amount the retail prices of food have increased in each year since 1951, and, to the nearest convenient date, and for each year, the amount by which prices have increased since 1951.

Mr. Erroll

I thought that this Question had been answered with Question No. 19.

Mr. Speaker

I was told that it would be answered with Question No. 19, but the Financial Secretary, in answering No. 19, did not say so.

Mr. Erroll

Perhaps I might explain that the Answer to Question No. 21 is also long and contains a number of figures and that it will, with permission, be circulated in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Mr. Sparks

Why is it that the Government have permitted food prices to rise so high, without making any effort to restrict them?

Mr. Erroll

I think the hon. Gentleman ought to look at the table of figures.

Mr. Jay

As there is now such confusion between the Economic Secretary and the Financial Secretary, will the Economic Secretary now answer the question which the Financial Secretary was unable to answer two minutes ago?

Mr. Erroll

I thought my hon. and learned Friend answered it quite brilliantly.

Mr. S. Silverman

Is the hon. Gentleman not aware that since 1951 import prices have dropped 14 per cent. and that export prices have risen 9 per cent.; yet, in spite of that very important improvement in the terms of trade, the retail prices have risen over the same period by 25 per cent.? How does the hon. Gentleman explain the discrepancy?

Mr. Erroll

Perhaps the hon. Gentleman, in fairness, would quote the comparable increase in wages during the same period.

Following is the information:

Year Increase over previous year Increase since 1951
1952 15.8 15.8
1953 5.6 22.2
1954 2.6 25.4
1955 7.5 34.9
1956 4.4 40.8
1957 2.6 44.5
1958 2.1 47.5
May, 1959 − 0.4† 48.9
* The estimates are based on the sub-index for food in the Index of Retail Prices, linked to the corresponding item in the Interim Indices based on 17th June, 1947, and on 15th January, 1952, respectively. The changes since 1951 may therefore be affected by any lack of comparability between the three series used.
† Change from May, 1958.