HC Deb 12 November 1970 vol 806 cc577-8
2. Mr. John Fraser

asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will make an estimate of the effect of his Department's policy on the Retail Price Index during the next 12 months.

Mr. Bryan

The Government's policy is to reduce the present inflationary rate of pay increases, for which responsibility rests primarily with both sides of industry, and so achieve greater stability of prices in the months ahead. It is not possible to say however what effect such a reduction would have on the Retail Price Index.

Mr. John Fraser

Would the hon. Gentleman say how he intends to achieve a significantly lower rate of wage increases, having abandoned a voluntary prices and incomes policy which was working? Is he now to resort to nothing else but greater unemployment as a means of achieving this end?

Mr. Bryan

The hon. Gentleman is aware that our troubles at present are that we are suffering from the aftermath of the policies of the previous Government—policies which he is now recommending to us. I would advise him to wait and see the results of our policy which I have described in my Answer.

Sir B. Rhys Williams

Would my hon. Friend bear in mind that when the rise in cost of living is attributable to an increase in the cost of food its effects are unequal as between single men and men supporting children; and that the proper and selective way of dealing with the problem is not to give blanket increases in wages but to increase family allowances?

Mr. Bryan

This is a circuitous way of asking a question which has nothing to do with the original Question.