§ 2. Mr. John Fraser
asked the Secretary of State for Employment and Productivity how many notifications under the Prices and Incomes Act in respect of price increases have been made to his Department since 18th June, 1970; and what action he has taken on them.
§ The Minister of State, Department of Employment and Productivity (Mr. Paul Bryan)
Such notifications are not made to my Department. Since 18th June, 60 notifications have been received by Departments responsible for particular commodities and services under the voluntary arrangements for the early warning of price increases.
§ Mr. Fraser
Will that voluntary notification machinery be continued in order to keep a watch on prices, and will the hon. Gentleman give an assurance that, wherever there is a price rise which gives cause for concern, he will, jointly with other Ministers, refer it for public scrutiny to the Prices and Incomes Board?
§ Mr. Bryan
The Government have stated their determination to strengthen the economy and to curb inflation. As I have said, the arrangements under which firms at present notify proposals for price increases are under review in the context of our detailed consideration of means of achieving the Government's objective. As for the Prices and Incomes Board, my right hon. Friend will be answering Questions on this subject a little later.
§ Sir G. Nabarro
As so many of the price increases are motivated by the behaviour of nationalised industries—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."]—yes, they are—and as price increases by nationalised industries are now to be the responsibility of Government Departments, will Ministers answer in the House for the reaction of Government Departments to the demands of nationalised industry for price increases?
§ Mr. Barnett
Following the Prime Minister's recent reply, may we take it that the Government intend to allow private industry to increase prices as it will without any Government intervention whatever?
§ 17. Mr. Sheldon
asked the Secretary of State for Employment and Productivity what action he proposes to prevent unjustifiable price rises.
§ Mr. Sheldon
What action does the Minister propose to take if, as a result of the dock strike or for any other reason, a company abuses its market power and increases prices unjustifiably?