HC Deb 16 March 1972 vol 833 cc758-9
Q2. Mr. Duffy

asked the Prime Minister if he remains satisfied with the coordination between all Departments on all matters pertaining to incomes and prices: and if he will make a statement.

The Prime Minister

Yes, Sir. All Departments are aware that it is an essential condition of price stability that increases in incomes should not exceed increases in productivity; and the Government's policies are framed accordingly.

Mr. Duffy

But does not the right hon. Gentleman think that the miners' pay settlement and the information published last night by the Department of Trade and Industry on price restraint suggests that the right hon. Gentleman's policy on incomes and prices has hitherto been too inflexible, and has therefore inevitably acquired a certain brittleness—in other words, that "N" has become crucial and more important than the merits of a particular wage increase? Would he not therefore put his future policy in this sector in a more generous framework of reference?

The Prime Minister

If the hon. Gentleman studies the awards over the past 18 months, apart from the award to the miners, he will find considerable variation between them. There has been flexibility in the private sector. This is bound to depend on the results of bargaining between employers and unions.

Mr. Redmond

Does my right hon. Friend agree that the constant cry "Give them the money" from hon. Gentlemen opposite is not at all popular with those who have to foot the bill in the form of higher prices because of wage awards?

The Prime Minister

There is growing public understanding of the relationship between the two, and this has been shown very recently. I believe that the public understand that one cannot have inflationary wage increases and also keep prices down.

Mr. Lipton

Is there any Department or activity of his Administration with which the right hon. Gentleman is not satisfied? [Laughter.]

The Prime Minister

That is the easiest supplementary question that the hon. Gentleman has ever asked me. The answer is "No"—and if there were, I would change it.