HC Deb 30 June 1966 vol 730 cc2169-70
18. Mr. Ashley

asked the First Secretary of State and Secretary of State for Economic Affairs if he will replace the existing incomes norm of 3 to 3½ per cent. with two norms, one of 2 per cent. for the majority and one of 5 per cent. for those whose increase in income has fallen behind the average.

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

No, Sir. Since the figure of 3–3½ per cent. is an average it takes account of the need for variations.

Mr. Ashley

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the real danger to the prices and incomes policy will arise not from the feeble attacks of hon. Members opposite but from any failure by the Government to act with vigour and determination in the interests of lower-paid workers?

Mr. Brown

Yes, Sir, I have that point very much in mind.

Mr. Park

Would the First Secretary bear in mind that the real problem here is not one of restricting incomes but of increasing productivity? Can he tell the House when the Government's proposals for a national productivity conference are likely to be implemented, and what encouragement is being given to the formation of productivity committees at all levels of industry?

Mr. Brown

On the first point, I think that that is an over-simplification. It is not as simple as all that. There are, after all, very many workers whose contribution to productivity is not measurable in the way that other people's are. There are many people, particularly in the public services, who must be looked after in another way. As to the rest of his question, we are at the moment consulting the T.U.C, and the C.B.I, and the National Economic Development Office about the arrange- ments for holding that conference, and I hope to be able to give a more detailed answer very soon.