HC Deb 18 February 1965 vol 706 cc1344-6
8. Mr. Fisher

asked the First Secretary of State and Secretary of State for Economic Affairs to what he attributes the recent rise in prices; and what measures he proposes to remedy this.

26. Mr. Hector Hughes

asked the First Secretary of State and Secretary of State for Economic Affairs what replies he has received to the letters he sent to 18 trade associations and individual companies to find out why prices had gone up; whether the price review body will sit in different regions of Great Britain; what will be its personnel and procedure; and how he will implement its recommendations.

38. Mr. Prior

asked the First Secretary of State and Secretary of State for Economic Affairs what replies he has received to his inquiries regarding higher prices.

Mr. Albu

The replies received give reasons that vary according to the circumstances of the industry or trade. But higher labour costs feature in nearly all of them. This is one of the reasons why, as announced by my right hon. Friend on 11th February, we are setting up the National Board for Prices and Incomes. Details of the arrangements to be made are given in the White Paper on the Machinery of Prices and Incomes Policy (Cmnd. 2577).

Mr. Fisher

Would the Minister of State care to acknowledge that his right hon. Friends are also making their contribution to the rising cost of everything by the petrol tax, the higher Bank Rate, higher local authority interest rates, Income Tax which is to come in April and National Insurance contributions? Do not all these things add to the rising cost of everything, too?

Mr. Albu

There are, no doubt, a number of factors which increase costs. It is to ensure that price rises are based on genuine increases of cost and not upon excessive profits that we are setting up the board.[HON. MEMBERS: "Nonsense."]

Mr. William Hamilton

What evidence is there in my hon. Friend's Department of a deliberate conspiracy by manufacturers and retailers to sabotage the efforts of the Government to get an incomes policy?

Mr. Albu

One of the gratifying things about this is that we have a good deal of support from manufacturers and from some very considerable retailers. There is no doubt that the better, most progressive and moat efficient manufacturers and retailers are supporting what the Government are doing.

Mr. Stratton Mills

Does the Minister of State recall that the Labour Party's election manifesto said that the success of the national plan would depend upon the new and relevant policy—[HON. MEMBERS: "Reading."]

Mr. Speaker

I am sure that the hon. Member will help me. What he was saying sounded like a verbatim quotation. If he tells me that it was not, I will not stop him.

Mr. Stratton Mills

It was an abbreviation, Mr. Speaker. I will repeat the question. Does not the Minister recall that part of his party's election manifesto was based upon saying that the national plan could not succeed without their new and relevant measures to check the persistent rise in prices? Why have the party opposite abandoned this in practice?

Mr. Albu

That is an extraordinary supplementary question. [HON. MEMBERS: "Answer."] It is extremely easy to answer. We have just set up the machinery for dealing with those very matters.