HC Deb 21 December 1967 vol 756 cc1464-5
26. Mr. Alfred Morris

asked the Secretary of State for Economic Affairs what recent consultations he has had with the chairman of the National Board for Prices and Incomes on the Government's economic policy; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Frederick Lee

My right hon. Friend meets the Chairman of the Board from time to time to discuss matters connected with the productivity, prices and incomes policy and has met him recently for this purpose. These discussions are confidential.

Mr. Morris

What consultations were there with Mr. Jones before his speech to the American Chamber of Commerce? Will my right hon. Friend try to persuade Mr. Jones to make less gloomy prognostications and to speak at least sometimes of the achievements of British industry, managers and workers alike?

Mr. Lee

We knew that Mr. Jones proposed to make a speech, but we did not ask him for the content of it. If people who take responsible jobs in public life were to have inhibitions of that sort put upon them, it would be highly improbable that they would take such jobs.

Mr. David Steel

Have either the Government or the Board sorted out what is their policy towards increases in council house rents?

Mr. Lee

There are problems here. As the hon. Gentleman knows, councils have responsibilities also towards their rate funds, and so on, but it is a point which is being looked at closely.

Mr. Higgins

As the Schedule which sets out the criteria which Mr. Jones has to take into account has been rendered completely obsolete by the Government's devaluation and the events leading up to it, has this question been discussed with Mr. Jones, and do the Government intend to amend the Schedule to the Act?

Mr. Lee

The Government have been discussing this vital question not only with Mr. Jones but with the C.B.I, and the T.U.C. Those discussions are by no means complete yet, but I assure the hon. Gentleman that we have the point in mind.