HC Deb 01 December 1966 vol 737 cc597-8
9. Mr. Stratton Mills

asked the First Secretary of State and Secretary of State for Economic Affairs how many of the 6,000 complaints about price increases received by his Department were considered as justified; how many were not; and how many of those which did not seem justified were subsequently reduced following representations.

Mr. M. Stewart

Over 1,000 complaints were outside the terms of the standstill. Of the remainder, nearly half are still being followed up. We believe that the number of increases already withdrawn, reduced or deferred following representations is greater than the 37 of which we have precise details.

Mr. Mills

What exactly does that Answer mean? Is it not a continuation of the rather pathetic and useless gesture of the right hon. Gentleman in September? Can he not give rather more concrete details of the analysis of the reductions which he claims, rightly or wrongly, to have brought about?

Mr. Stewart

First, the Answer meant what it said. As to detail, it answered the points mentioned in the Question. I do not agree that this was a useless exercise, nor did the public think so. I think that it contributed to the degree of stability of prices which we have achieved during this period.

Mr. Bence

Can my right hon. Friend tell us whether there are among these 6,000 complaints any complaints about the fees which professional people are charging for services, like those of lawyers and estate agents? If he has, what action is he taking about these high fees?

Mr. Stewart

I should like to answer the latter part of that question with notice, but the 6,000 complaints referred to in the Question cover nearly everything one could think of.

Mr. Iain Macleod

If all the hullabaloo has boiled down to 37 cases for which the right hon. Gentleman is claiming effective action, would he be prepared to identify those 37 if I put down a Question?

Mr. Stewart

I will consider that: the right hon. Gentleman might put it down and try.