HC Deb 21 December 1967 vol 756 cc1463-4
23. Mr. Bishop

asked the Secretary of State for Economic Affairs what action he is taking to ensure that increases in the price of goods and services are no greater than those arising from the effects of devaluation; and what action he proposes in the case of those increases which have already exceeded the justified amounts.

The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Mr. Frederick Lee)

I would refer my hon. Friend to the Reply on 8th December to my hon. Friend the Member for West Lothian (Mr. Dalyell) which summarised the advice being given to industry and trade by Government Departments and the ways in which supervision of prices is exercised.—[Vol. 755, c 412–3.]

Mr. Bishop

Will my right hon. Friend take the opportunity of the next few days before Christmas to prowl around the market places in order to realise just how much prices have been rising, and will he assure us that he will take just as positive action on the prices front as he has on the wages front, to ensure that everyone has a happier new year?

Mr. Lee

I am sure that, in the light of my hon. Friend's question, he will be pleased to know that we have this morning made a reference to the National Board for Prices and Incomes for quick examination of the question of distributors' margins in relation to manufacturers' recommended prices.

Mr. Biffen

But is it not clear that, to the extent to which manufacturers are not allowed to price their goods as they think the market will bear, the Government themselves will have to take their own deflationary measures?

Mr. Lee

In the reply to which I have already referred, we stated the criteria upon which we expect industry to function. If there are increases which go outside that, we shall probably take action to refer them to the Board.

Mr. R. C. Mitchell

Will my right hon. Friend do everything in his power to stop excessive price increases in the public sector of industry and also in local government services?

Mr. Lee

Yes, Sir. My hon. Friend will know that the Government have already stated that such references will be made to the Prices and Incomes Board where there are large changes in nationalised industry prices.