HC Deb 26 March 1968 vol 761 cc1154-5
Q1. Mr. Winnick

asked the Prime Minister which Ministers are responsible for improving the wages of the lower-paid workers.

The Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Wilson)

As the House knows, the coordination of the productivity, prices and incomes policy is the responsibility of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Economic Affairs, Sir.

Mr. Winnick

But is it not a matter of great concern to the Government that so many adult workers take home less than £15 a week—less than many rich people spend on one evening out? How will the new incomes Bill affect these workers, who are so desperately in need of more money?

The Prime Minister

I have not gone into dining out habits, but certainly the question of the lower-paid workers—and, as my hon. Friend says, there are very many below that figure—has been one of the most important things which my right hon. Friends and I have been discussing with the T.U.C.

Sir C. Osborne

But did not the Prime Minister yesterday tell the T.U.C. when, with the Chancellor of the Exchequer, he was with that body that unless the incomes policy succeeded there would be 1½ million unemployed?—[HON. MEMBERS: "Two and a half million."]—How can we expect the lower-paid worker to get a higher standard of living if that is a possibility?

The Prime Minister

From the greater productivity of British industry. I told the T.U.C., as I have said many times publicly recently, that if we do not have a satisfactory and effective prices and incomes policy the only alternative, which sometimes I think has been proposed from the benches opposite, is a resumption of deflation, which could have the sort of effect which the hon. Gentleman has described.