HC Deb 26 June 1969 vol 785 cc1696-7
30. Mr. Driberg

asked the Secretary of State for Employment and Productivity if she will publish regularly a cost-of-living index containing information on insurance, mortgage repayments, taxation and other matters which are excluded from the Index of Retail Prices.

Mr. Hattersley

No. Changes in indirect taxes which are reflected in changes in the retail prices of goods and services are already included in the official indices of retail prices.

Changes in direct taxes, insurance and mortgage repayments have been excluded on the recommendation of the Cost of Living Advisory Committee.

Information about the incidence of these items is available from other published sources, including the annual reports on the Family Expenditure Survey.

Mr. Driberg

Since it is officially admitted that the accuracy of the present index is widely doubted, would it not be better to replace it by a real, comprehensive, and credible cost-of-living index?

Mr. Hattersley

The admission to which the hon. Gentleman refers was in fact made by me and I am prepared to repeat it this afternoon. One reason why its accuracy is doubted is because people believe it to be an indication of movements in the cost of living when in fact it is a series of indices which are much more precise and are intended to do a rather different job from the one that the hon. Gentleman suggests.

Mrs. Ewing

Can the hon. Gentleman say whether there is any intention to publish any kind of cost-of-living index for Scotland? After 18 months of hints that such a disclosure may be made at any moment, is it not time to say yes or no to a request for such vital statistics?

Mr. Hattersley

I told the hon. Lady some months ago that there are substantial technical problems about producing regional indices. The fact that those problems exist is exemplified by the evidence that she presents in that she has not explained the nature of the indices she would like to see and whether they should compare regional differences or movements over time in every region.

Mr. Higgins

As the hon. Gentleman has already agreed that the existing Index does not fully reflect the cost of living of pensioners and has promised a new Index for that, may I ask when we may expect it?

Mr. Hattersley

It was published a week ago and a full account appeared this morning in The Times.

33. Mr. Speed

asked the Secretary of State for Employment and Productivity what were the increases in the index of retail prices for nationalised industries, for food, for housing, for fuel and light, for durable household goods, for clothing and footwear, for transport and

13th Oct., 1964 to 20th May, 1969 19th July, 1966 to 20th May, 1969 14th Nov., 1967 to 20th May, 1969 21st May, 1968 to 20th May, 1969
Nationalised industries 23.9 12.4 5.1 4.2
Food 21.9 13.3 11.3 6.5
Housing 26.7 12.9 6.5 4.0
Fuel and light 22.9 12.6 3.7 3.1
Durable household goods 14.2 9.6 7.5 3.7
Clothing and footwear 11.0 6.3 4.6 3.4
Transport and vehicles 21.8 13.6 9.5 3.8
Miscellaneous goods 25.1 17.1 14.6 5.5
Services 30.8 17.3 10.5 7.8
All items 21.9 12.8 9.2 5.3
1. The items included under the heading "nationalised industries" are
Road and rail passenger transport
Postal and telephone services
2. These items are also included in other groups as follows:
Coal, coke, gas and electricity in Fuel and light
Road and rail passenger transport in Transport and vehicles
Postal and telephone services in Services