HC Deb 30 June 1964 vol 697 cc1116-7
7. Mr. Bence

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what has been the percentage increase in the level of prices each year since 1951; and what estimate he has made of what proportion of the increase in Government expenditure as laid down in Cmnd. 2235 may be accounted for by an increase of the level of prices.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

On the first part of the Question, it depends on what prices the hon. Member has in mind. There are several published price indices, and they have not all moved in the same way. On the second part of the Question, none of the increase in Government expenditure shown in Command Paper No. 2235 is attributable to price increases because, as is explained in paragraphs 5 and 11 of the White Paper, the calculations are at constant prices.

Mr. Bence

Do we take it from the right hon. Gentleman that the assumption is that there will be no increase in price in the next three years, and if that is so, why is it that in the £360 million there is no provision for increased pensions?

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

There is no such assumption as the hon. Member seeks to read into my Answer or into the White Paper. It is the normal, and, I think, helpful, practice, in order that comparisons shall have reality, to express documents of this kind in constant prices without making any assumption necessarily as to the course of prices over the period covered.

Mr. J. T. Price

The right hon. Gentleman has stalled the question by saying that there is a difficulty in providing the statistics. If there had been a fall in prices over the period mentioned instead of a dramatic rise, would the right hon. Gentleman be standing at the Dispatch Box putting forward a statistical excuse for not giving information which the House is entitled to have?

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

I am not saying that there is any defect in the materials that I have. If there be a defect, then, with all due respect, it is in the Question.