HC Deb 25 January 1962 vol 652 cc387-8
16. Sir Richard Pilkington

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will give comparative figures of the restraint there has been on wages, salaries and dividends since the beginning of the pay pause.

Mr. Brooke

The index of weekly wage rates stood at 120.1 in July, 1960, 122.2 in December, 1960, 125.1 in July, 1961, and 126.4 in December, 1961. During the pay pause therefore the index has risen at little more than half the rate of the corresponding period in 1960, and all but 0.4 points of this rise was in fact due to implementation of pre-pause commitments. There is no comparable index for salaries. Companies reporting in the second quarter of 1961 showed an average increase of 12 per cent. on their dividends and 6.9 per cent. on their profits, whereas those reporting in the fourth quarter of 1961 showed an average increase of 2 per cent. on their dividends and a fall of 3.3 per cent. on their profits.

Sir Richard Pilkington

Will my right hon. Friend pay tribute to those sections of the community who have co-operated in the pay pause for the greater good of the nation as a whole?

Mr. Brooke

The figures which I have quoted show that the pay pause has been remarkably effective.

Mr. Callaghan

Do not the figures also show that the pay pause has been remarkable in its effect in that it has borne very hardly on a number of workers who are the most lowly-paid in the community? Will the right hon. Gentleman give another figure? What has been the increase in the cost of living, which has borne even more hardly on those workers during the last twelve months? Instead of being so proud of the restraint imposed, is it not time for the Treasury to throw off these shackles and get down to making the economy expand and industry grow?

Mr. Brooke

I am always ready to answer Questions put on the Order Paper and I have answered this one. As the hon. Member knows, what the Chancellor would like to do now is to see conditions created in which this phase of the pay pause should be brought to an end before long and be replaced by an intermediate stage.

Dr. King

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the fundamental difference between a wage and salary pause and a dividend limitation is that when the wage-earner forgoes a wage increase he never gets it in the future but the dividend limiter is merely postponing his dividend?

Mr. Brooke

The hon. Member will bear in mind that there is another feature of this, too, and that is that 'wages never go down and dividends do.