HC Deb 11 May 1967 vol 746 cc1680-1
17. Mr. Hamling

asked the First Secretary of State and Secretary of State for Economic Affairs how many complaints he has received alleging unjustifiable price increases in the last six months; and whether he will make a statement.

Mr. Frederick Lee

Most complaints about prices are made direct to the Ministers immediately concerned with the goods and services in question. In the six months to 30th April, 1967, some 9,000 complaints in all were received. Examination of the complaints showed that the great majority of them related to increases which had either been justified under the relevant criteria for prices behaviour or had occurred before the July standstill. Nevertheless, the flow of complaints has played its part in encouraging suppliers to do all they can to restrain price increases. We will continue to keep price increases and proposals for increases under proper surveillance.

Mr. Hamling

Will my right hon. Friend take steps to publish a White Paper giving details of the various complaints and the so-called criteria that are advanced to justify some of these increases?

Mr. Lee

The criteria have been published in the White Paper to which I made reference. I sometimes think that the great difference between incomes and prices is that, whereas it may well be that some trade unions do not mind being turned down by the National Board for Prices and Incomes, some employers do because it is not very good for their image.

Mr. Mawby

Could the right hon. Gentleman tell us how many of the complaints were complaints against nationalised industries?

Mr. Lee

No, I could not offhand, but if the hon. Member puts that Question on the Order Paper I will give him an Answer.

Mrs. Thatcher

How many of the complaints were found to be justified?

Mr. Lee

I gave the answer to that in an answer a few minutes ago. If the hon. Lady looks it up, she will find that I gave the answer.