HC Deb 20 November 1962 vol 667 cc986-7
9. Sir Richard Pilkington

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what progress has been made since 1954 towards doubling the nation's standard of living within 25 years.

Mr. Maudling

Between 1954 and 1961, the rise of real personal disposable income per head, which is the best statistical definition of the standard of living, has been at the rate of 3.3 per cent. per annum. This is a somewhat faster rate than would be required to double the standard of living in 25 years.

Sir Richard Pilkington

While I am sure that the Government are to be congratulated from all sides of the House, may I ask if my right hon. Friend does not agree that if this target is to be achieved one essential is that hon. Members opposite should remain opposite?

Mr. Maudling

That is, I think, demonstrable.

Dr. Bray

Is the Chancellor aware that the target which he has set up for "Neddy" will not maintain a rate of growth sufficient to double the standard of living in 25 years?

Mr. Maudling

This question was concerned with the experience between 1954–61, and as I was not responsible at that period, I can happily say it was very good.

Mr. Callaghan

Do not these figures show how unwise it is to rely on statistics in determining whether people are feeling better off or not? How does the Chancellor account for the fact that if we have "never had it so good" there is a widespread feeling in the country that conditions are exceedingly difficult, especially for certain groups of people who have never had it so bad, including the unemployed and the old-age pensioners?

Mr. Maudling

Of course, in any general average, there are bound to be particular areas of the country or sections of people who are not up to that average, but this Question was about the average, and I have given an accurate Answer.