HC Deb 21 July 1966 vol 732 cc864-5
Q5. Mr. Goodhart

asked the Prime Minister whether he will designate one senior Minister to be responsible for enforcing the implementation of the recommendations of the National Board for Prices and Incomes.

The Prime Minister

No, Sir.

Mr. Goodhart

Is the Prime Minister aware that the failure to take action on this matter is as obvious and pathetic as was yesterday's demonstration of disagreement by his right hon. Friend the First Secretary?

The Prime Minister

The position about the recommendations of the National Board for Prices and Incomes Recommendation has been made clear in the House. Inevitably, a number of Ministers are concerned particularly when one thinks of all prices—agricultural as well as industrial. Industrial prices are the responsibility of my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour, but my right hon. Friend the First Secretary is in charge of the general co-ordination of policy on prices and incomes—[Interruption.]—and is pushing ahead very actively— [Laughter.] Laughter from right hon. and hon. Members opposite[Interruption.] —who talked about prices and incomes all the time they were in office and did nothing about them, is really— [Interruption.] My right hon. Friend will be having urgent talks now with the C.B.I. and the T.U.C. about the implementation of the policy that was announced yesterday.

Mr. Frederick Harris

But does not the Prime Minister's statement of yesterday virtually nullify the work of this Board for the next six months at least?

The Prime Minister

No, Sir. It makes the Board's work a great deal more important.

Mr. Shinwell

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the First Secretary is worth a dozen of those in opposition?

The Prime Minister

I should have thought that that was a very serious underestimate.

Sir C. Nabarro

In view of the Prime Minister's statement yesterday of a wage and salary freeze for six months, followed by severe restrictions for the next six months, how does he propose to secure adherence to such a policy which is only pious aspiration unless there is some means of enforcement? And what does he propose to do with his right hon. Friend the Member for Nuneaton (Mr. Cousins) who is already defying that policy?

The Prime Minister

The policy that was enunciated yesterday is essential for the economic recovery of this country. Many have talked about these policies in the past; we have taken action over the last 18 months— [Interruption.] We have had many disappointments [Interruption.] No one thought[Interruption.] At any rate, we have been dealing with it and not just talking about it. Whilst it is easy for right hon. and hon. Gentlemen to laugh about it, we should like to see a little more support for that policy.

Mr. Corfield

Am I to understand that the right hon. Gentleman is saying that he enunciated a policy yesterday without previously having the consultations upon which all depends whether it is possible to implement that policy?

The Prime Minister

There have been continuous discussions with both the C.B.I. and the T.U.C. on all questions of prices and incomes policy. These have been going on now for 18 months. I think that all the problems are known, but someone had to take a decision. We announced the decision yesterday, and we shall discuss with those organisations how best to implement it.