HC Deb 10 February 1966 vol 724 cc610-1
Q3. Sir H. Lucas-Tooth

asked the Prime Minister whether he will transfer responsibility for the index of industrial production from the Treasury to the Secretary of State for Economic Affairs.

The Prime Minister

The index of industrial production is in fact prepared in the Central Statistical Office which is part of the Cabinet Office.

Sir H. Lucas-Tooth

As the Central Statistical Office is under the Treasury, as the value of the index depends on trends shown by the adjusted figures, and as the method of adjustment depends on difficult questions of economics, ought not the formulation of those methods to be the responsibility of the Minister responsible for economic affairs?

The Prime Minister

The Central Statistical Office, as I said in my original Answer, is under the Cabinet Office for which I carry responsibility. I think that the hon. Gentleman's misunderstanding about this is due to the fact that the Treasury issues the index month by month. The question of whether publication should be a responsibility of my right hon. Friend the First Secretary of State is being considered. I think that there might be a case for his putting it out, but it will still be computed in the Cabinet Office by the Central Statistical Office, which I think is the right organisation for that.

Mr. Heath

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that, even if he changes responsibility for publication of the index, it will not alter the fact that in November of last year it was two points below what it was in January of this year, as a result of the Government's policies—stagnant production.

The Prime Minister

Nothing was more predictable than the right hon. Gentleman's supplementary question. He put it last week as well. The answer is, as I made plain long before the election, that the situation they left us with— [Interruption.] I hope that they are not denying that. I see the former Prime Minister in his place, and he told us that everything was all right.

With that situation and with no other weapons for dealing with it, we had to take restrictive measures, which were the only measures they ever had for dealing with the sort of situation with which they left us.