HC Deb 06 November 1969 vol 790 cc1158-9
9. Mr. Barnett

asked the Secretary of State for Employment and Productivity what is her estimate of the amount by which incomes will be restrained by use of the delaying powers of four months ; and if she will make a statement.

Mrs. Castle

It is not possible to give a quantitative estimate.

Mr. Barnett

Would my right hon. Friend accept that the monetary squeeze is likely to hold back incomes more than any delaying power? In these circumstances, would she not agree that it might be better to allow the powers to lapse and to allow a voluntary policy to work?

Mrs. Castle

We are often told that a voluntary policy could do the job that the prices and incomes legislation has been designed to do. Frankly I cannot see any evidence that without the pressures of public opinion which we are able to marshall through the prices and incomes legislation, there will be any reality in voluntary incomes policy at all.

The main purpose of the Part II powers is first to enable us to have early warning of price increases as well as pay increases and then to call on the party concerned to hold up those increases while the P.I.B. looks at them in the light of the national interest. This is an essential part of any educative process we are trying to carry through now.

Mr. Lane

In view of the prevailing confusion, can the right hon. Lady clarify what the Government now regard as the norm for wage and salary increases?

Mrs. Castle

The White Paper introduced at the time of the last legislation is still current. A new one will be introduced shortly.