HC Deb 24 October 1972 vol 843 cc967-8
5. Mr. Skinner

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what, on the basis of the General Index of Retail Prices, is the purchasing power of the £ sterling now, taking it as 100p on 18th June, 1970.

Mr. Higgins

Taking the internal purchasing power of the £ sterling as 100p in mid-June 1970, its value in mid-September, 1972, the latest date available, is estimated at 84p on the basis of the movement in the General Index of Retail Prices.

Mr. Skinner

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that this time last year, when I was putting similar Questions, I was told that things were going to pick up in the next 12 months? What has happened? Since then the figures show that 2½ years of Tory economic policy and pure competition have resulted in the worst inflation we have ever experienced in this country? May we take it that laissez-faire economics is well and truly buried?

Mr. Higgins

The hon. Gentleman is wrong in the first part of his supplementary question. It is important to take into account the increase in the real standard of living achieved, a point which my right hon. Friend has just made. The hon. Gentleman referred to last year's Questions. If he looks at the figures for September last year, he will see that the increase in the index of retail prices was 10 per cent. whereas in September this year it was 7 per cent., representing a very considerable improvement.

Mr. James Hamilton

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that in Lanarkshire we have a deep depression and large-scale unemployment? Is he aware that the people there are sadly disillusioned with the Prime Minister's statement that he would reduce prices at a stroke, so disillusioned that there is no doubt that when we have a General Election they will once again return a Labour Government?

Mr. Higgins

What we have undoubtedly achieved is a marked reduction in the rate of inflation. What we now have to do is to build upon that and to get back to a solution which could lead to a major contribution to our welfare in future, and with that in view the tripartite talks are of great importance.

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