HC Deb 12 February 1973 vol 850 cc978-9
30. Mr. Moyle

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether he will investigate the recent allegations of increased charges by car hire firms over the Christmas holiday period.

Sir G. Howe

It is the normal practice of the car hire trade to increase charges at Christmas to cover the cost of higher wages paid to staff for working during a public holiday. Firms were not infringing the prices standstill if their charges did not exceed those made during the Christmas period in 1971, and I see no reason to order any special investigation.

Mr. Moyle

Does the right hon. and learned Gentleman agree that some of the information I have sent him shows that car hire firms doubled their charges over Christmas? Even if cabbies require more money when working on Christmas Day can he tell the House how cars depreciate twice as fast on Christmas Day as on any other day? Is not this an example of prices going up whilst wages are held down?

Sir G. Howe

The pattern to which the hon. Member referred is no different from that on previous Christmas occasions, because firms have to pay their staffs double and even treble the normal rates at such periods.

Mr. Kenneth Lewis

Is it not rather odd that the Labour Party on more than one occasion at this Question Time has been opposed to increases in prices while opposing the prices and incomes policy?