§ 27. Mr. Barnes
asked the Secretary of State for Economic Affairs if he will make a statement on the future application of prices and incomes policy following the discussions with the Confederation of British Industry and the Trades Union Congress.
§ Mr. Frederick Lee
Discussions with the Confederation of British Industry and the Trades Union Congress have not been completed. My right hon. Friend will make a statement after the House resumes next month.
§ Mr. Barnes
If movements of prices and incomes are not very carefully controlled, is there not great danger that the benefits of devaluation will be frittered away? What strengthened vetting arrangements have so far been applied to the large number of increases in trade prices already announced?
§ Mr. Lee
I thoroughly agree with the point which my hon. Friend makes. As I said in answer to another question, we are discussing this vital matter with the C.B.I, and the T.U.C. We are well aware of the importance of keeping prices down wherever possible. In the reply to which I referred a short time ago, we pointed out that there must be a large number of prices which are not even affected by devaluation and that such increases as are forced by devaluation should not necessarily aim at retaining the same margin as before.
§ Mr. Iain Macleod
Is the Chancellor of the Duchy discussing legislative proposals? Has he any proposals in this field for either new or amending legislation?
§ 33. Mr. Biffen
asked the Secretary of State for Economic Affairs what additional staff are being recruited to strengthen the vetting procedures of the prices and incomes policy promised in the recent Letter of Intent to the International Monetary Fund.
§ Mr. Frederick Lee
The voluntary arrangements for notification and examination of proposed increases in prices and incomes are being reviewed: it is not possible to say at this stage whether any extra staff will be required.
§ Mr. Biffen
Is it not obviously intolerable to expect anyone to believe that the T.U.C. vetting procedure can have any real significance upon the control of incomes in view of the policies of unions such as the A.E.U., which are perfectly justifiable, in my view? If the Government want credibility to be attached to the Letter of Intent, ought not they to give a demonstration of taking action themselves instead of off-loading the dirty work to other people?