HC Deb 17 February 1970 vol 796 cc182-3
1. Mr. Hugh Jenkins

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he is aware that recent official United States statistics show a decline in the real standard of living of lower income groups; how far recent statistics in the United Kingdom show a similar trend; and what is the position in this country in both incomes and ownership of wealth, both relatively and actually, in each case.

The Minister of State, Treasury (Mr. William Rodgers)

I am aware of the United States figure that my hon. Friend has in mind, but I can assure him that comparable United Kingdom statistics do not show the same trend. I am not sure what my hon. Friend has in mind in the last part of his Question.

Mr. Jenkins

Will my hon. Friend accept that I am aware that the social policies of the Government have in some degree succeeded in ameliorating the tendency of capitalism to extend the differences between the lower and the higher income groups; nevertheless, there is a disquieting tendency for this to happen? Will my hon. Friend have another look at the Question? If he reads it carefully he will see quite clearly what answers I want to the second part of it.

Mr. Rodgers

I can certainly reassure my hon. Friend that the rich are not getting richer and the poor are not getting poorer. I will study his Question again to see if I can be more helpful.

Mr. Bruce-Gardyne

Should not the House be more concerned about the relative decline in the living standards of all income groups in the population since this Government took office? Is not it evident that, unless a Tory Government comes back soon, the country will rank as an under-developed country according to the income per head of the population?

Mr. Rodgers

The hon. Gentleman is talking pretty average nonsense. The standard of living of the British people as a whole has risen very considerably over the last five years.