HC Deb 16 December 1974 vol 883 c1109
20. Mr. Tim Renton

asked the Secre-tar of State for Prices and Consumer Protection what form her invitation took, to the CBI, to become participants in the social contract in relation to the Price Code.

Mrs. Shirley Williams

I wrote to the CBI on 12th November inviting its views on all aspects of the consultative document on the review of the Price Code, and I discussed it with the CBI on 28th November.

Mr. Renton

Does not the right hon. Lady agree that at the present time of extreme inflation it is essential that both employers and unions alike should be party to any social contract that is worth while? Will the right hon. Lady tell the House at what level of wage inflation 25 per cent. or 30 per cent.—she would think it appropriate to reapproach the TUC and the CBI to suggest some new form of restraint based on statutory controls of wages and prices?

Mrs. Williams

The hon. Gentleman will be aware that I explored with the CBI the possibility of linking the productivity deduction to the level of labour unit costs, but it did not want to proceed with the matter. With regard to the second part of the hon. Gentleman's supplementary question, that is a matter for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Employment and not for me.

Mr. Richard Wainwright

Does not the right on. Lady agree that, while there is no harm in consulting the CBI and seeking its views, there can be no purpose in attempting to get its signature to the social contract when it would have no power to make any subject obey the contract?

Mrs. Williams

That is one of the problems which the CBI faces in this respect.

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