§ Q8. Mr. Burden
asked the Prime Minister if Her Majesty's Government will arrange that general directions are given by the appropriate Ministers to ensure that when the 15 per cent. import surcharge and/or the increased fuel tax increase the costs of nationalised industries, the increases are absorbed by them and are not passed on to the public in the form of extra charges.
§ Mr. Burden
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that during the whole of the debate in Committee on the Finance Bill Ministers opposite stated that these increases should be absorbed by private firms? Would it not be setting a really good example if the Government were to issue a directive to nationalised corporations telling them to do precisely what the Government are saying private organisations should do?
§ Mr. Brown
The hon. Member no doubt noticed that in answer to a Question on Tuesday, I said that I did not think that in principle one could exempt one area or one operation from another, and of course this we will have in mind when we come to discuss the setting up of any price review body we might agree upon.
§ Mr. Burden
But what exactly does that mean? The right hon. Gentleman's Answer was that the Government would not issue any such directive. Why cannot they issue such a directive if it is their intention to keep down prices, as they said it was during the election campaign?