HC Deb 03 February 1966 vol 723 cc1269-70
22. Mr. Higgins

asked the First Secretary of State and Secretary of State for Economic Affairs what percentage increase his Department forecasts for the next six months in wages and salaries, prices, and in gross national product.

The First Secretary of State and Secretary of State for Economic Affairs (Mr. George Brown)

A good deal of authoritative information is already available about the general trends of the economy. It is not customary for Governments to give in addition short-term forecasts of the likely movement of particular indicators.

Mr. Higgins

While appreciating that the First Secretary may have been deterred by the inaccuracy of his forecast of mortgage rates, would this kind of forecast not be helpful in appraising whether we are likely to achieve the targets in the National Plan? Is he satisfied with the performance to date?

Mr. Brown

The answer to the question is "No, Sir, it would not be helpful".

Mr. Biffen

Can the First Secretary say whether the evidence that he has about the likely trends in the gross national product make it necessary for him to revise the 3 per cent. to 3½ per cent. norm which guides his prices and incomes policy?

Mr. Brown

No. I would not have thought that at the moment, but, as I have said so many times, this will, of course, be kept under review by the National Economic Development Council, by both sides of industry and by Her Majesty's Government. There is no reason at the moment to make any revision.

Mr. William Clark

Can the First Secretary say how it was that the Chancellor of the Exchequer declared that prices would continue to go up until the spring and then possibly the rate would decrease?

Mr. Brown

If the hon. Gentleman wants to address a question to the Chancellor he ought to address it to him.