HC Deb 18 February 1965 vol 706 cc1346-7
9 and 10. Captain W. Elliot

asked the First Secretary of State and Secretary of State for Economic Affairs (1) what plans he has for negotiating a statement of intent concerning incomes policy with that section of the population who are neither trade unionists nor employers;

(2) what discussions he has had about the prices and incomes review body, which it is proposed to set up, with that section of the population who are neither trade unionists nor employers.

Mr. Albu

In addition to detailed discussions with the T.U.C. and the four national employers' organisations, the responsible Ministers have had talks with the main groups not directly represented in the discussions. There has also been general discussion on prices and incomes policy on N.E.D.C. In all these talks the Government have throughout had in mind the interests of the community as a whole and not just of particular sections.

Captain Elliot

Is the Minister aware that that is a thoroughly unsatisfactory Answer? Is he aware that there are millions of people who are neither trade unionists nor employers and that they are sick and tired of those two bodies coming to arrangements, often under the threat of economic blackmail, which impose a burden the result of which invariably falls upon the shoulders of this other section of the population? Will the Minister please initiate discussions with this section of the population, who are neither trade unionists nor employers, about an incomes policy? As to the price review body, will the hon. Gentleman ensure that independent people are appointed to it to represent the points of view of that section of the population who are neither trade unionists nor employers?

Mr. Albu

I thank the hon. and gallant Gentleman for answering his own question for me. If he reads the White Paper, he will find that this is exactly what we are doing.

I was not sure whether he was referring to other types of employees, like salaried employees, not represented on the T.U.C. If he was, he will find that I answered his question. If he was referring to old-age pensioners, perhaps I might point out that it is not in their interests for prices and wages to continue to rise and so cause inflation.

Mr. William Clark

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the mere setting up of a price review body does not absolve the Government from the responsibility of carrying out a nationally sound economic policy? Is he further aware that the Socialist paradise of Sweden has had a price review body since 1957, yet in the last 12 years the cost of living there has gone up faster than in this country?

Mr. Albu

I am aware of both those things, and also of the fact that the rate of economic growth in Sweden is very much greater than it has been in this country.

Mr. Buchan

We know that only in the nationalised industries are the interests of the consumers taken care of, but will my hon. Friend ensure that the interests of the consumers are taken care of in other sections of the economy?

Mr. Albu

Certainly that is the intention.