HC Deb 12 February 1968 vol 758 cc932-3
14. Mr. Biffen

asked the Minister of Technology how many price increases have been notified to him under the volutary early warning arrangements since devaluation; how many officials are employed full-time on the vetting of these prices; by what number have these officials been increased since devaluation; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Benn

Since 20th November, 1967, my Department has received 47 price increase notifications under the early warning arrangements. Four officials are employed full-time in examining price proposals and dealing with price complaints; their number has not been increased since devaluation.

Mr. Biffen

Can the right hon. Gentleman confirm that within the figure of notifications that he has given is included the price increase which was proceeded with for hearing aid batteries by Mallory Batteries of 50 per cent. and 78 per cent., and also confirm that the proposed price increase was examined and confirmed by his Department?

Mr. Benn

My Department does not approve price increases. No Department does under the early warning system. The early warning system provides that the Department shall be notified, and then it is considered by the Department, and then, as in this case and in one or two others, reference is made to the National Board for Prices and Incomes. I should make clear that the procedure does not in any circumstances provide for the Government to approve specific price increases