HC Deb 05 February 1973 vol 850 cc27-8
29. Mr. Arthur Lewis

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether he will give a list of the actions taken by his Department during the year ended December 1972 to reduce prices coming within the control of his Department; and what were the results in each of these cases.

Mr. Onslow

Action taken under the Counter-Inflation (Temporary Provisions) Act resulted in over 200 price increases being withdrawn by December 1972.

Mr. Lewis

Will the Minister now answer the Question? What action has he taken to reduce prices? He will recollect that both he and the Prime Minister, and all concerned, said that they would cut prices at a stroke. We know that they cannot do that, but after two and a half years can the hon. Gentleman say what definite action the Government have taken to reduce prices and not something that might happen in the dim and distant future?

Mr. Onslow

I am sorry that it has escaped the hon. Gentleman's notice that we have substantially reduced taxation.

Mr. Biffen

Referring to the instances which my hon. Friend has just quoted, can he say how much of that action was the result of notices served under legislation or orders laid under legislation?

Mr. Onslow

In the great majority of cases where infringements of the standstill have occurred, these have been established as being due to lack of understanding by the trader concerned of the provisions of the Act, and traders have readily agreed to comply when the position has been pointed out.

Mr. Benn

May we assume from the hon. Gentleman's reply that no prices were reduced as a result of Government action following the Counter-Inflation (Temporary Provisions) Act?

Mr. Onslow

Certainly not. The answer I have given directly contradicts that suggestion.