HC Deb 03 August 1961 vol 645 cc1645-7
Q3. Mr. Ginsburg

asked the Prime Minister what instructions he has given, or is considering giving, to Government Departments following the latest Report of the Council on Prices, Productivity and Incomes.

The Prime Minister

The hon. Member will have noted from the statement by my right hon. and learned Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer that we have the matters discussed in the Council's Report very much in mind, and we will certainly give very careful consideration to its views. I do not consider, however, that any specific instructions to Departments are necessary.

Mr. Ginsburg

I welcome that limited follow-up, but is it not a fantastic state of affairs that the Chancellor's actions should be in direct variance with the Council's advice? May I ask the Prime Minister why neither he nor the Chancellor of the Exchequer last week told the House that this Report had been received? Finally, given that the Report is dated 13th July, surely the Government could have ensured by special means that it was available to the House when the debate took place last week?

The Prime Minister

I think that the Council made it quite clear and emphasised that there was a distinction between long-term considerations and the short-term measures which the Chancellor thought it necessary to take.

Mr. H. Wilson

When we debated inflation on a previous occasion, when the Minister of Aviation was Chancellor, the only concrete proposal he made was to set up this Council. As the Council has been sitting for many years, and the quality of its Reports is improving so much, why did the Prime Minister not take account of that Report in the debate? Will he specifically answer my hon. Friend's question? Since the Prime Minister and the Chancellor had this Report three days before the debate, why was it not placed in the Library? Had the Prime Minister read it before he spoke in the debate?

The Prime Minister

I was not allowed to say very much in the debate.

Mr. E. Johnson

Does my right hon. Friend agree that if there had been a greater readiness by both sides of industry to accept the advice of earlier Reports we should be in a better position today?

Sir G. Nicholson

Is my right hon. Friend aware that so many Reports of various sorts are presented to the Government and Departments and then no clear and definite answer is given by the Government or by the Departments on the question of the recommendations in those Reports over many years? Will a Report like this one receive the considered comments of the Government? Will the Report of the Plowden Committee similarly receive comments and answers?

The Prime Minister

I think that both these Reports will be very valuable in the framing of long-term policy, but I do not think that they affect the necessity for the short-term measures which the Chancellor took.

Mr. Jay

In case the Prime Minister did not hear my hon. Friend's question, can he say why this Report was not published before last week's debate?

The Prime Minister

No, Sir. I am afraid that I cannot.