HC Deb 11 October 1976 vol 917 cc21-2
20. Mr. Arnold

asked the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection what further amendments he will now consider making to the Price Code.

Mr. Hattersley

A new Price Code came into operation on 1st August after extensive consultations with all interested parties. I have no present plans to change it.

Mr. Arnold

Given that the Price Code Order that we shall be debating tonight was published some time ago, is there not a clear-cut case in the light of recent events for further and immediate relief in the areas of investment, profits and land?

Mr. Hattersley

No, I think not. I hope to convince the House this evening that the revision which we propose will give all these companies a chance to increase prices, to increase profits and to invest. It will give them the opportunity to do so, and that remains our policy.

Mr. Sainsbury

To assist the House when it considers the continuation of the Price Code, will the Secretary of State publish a comparative study of price controls in other countries which appear to be more successful in controlling inflation and stimulating investment?

Mr. Hattersley

As the hon. Gentleman will imagine, during the past five weeks I have been considering price control techniques, mechanisms and philosophies in other countries. I have noted with interest the systems that operate in diverse social systems such as Sweden and France. They are extensive "inspector" systems which send Government representatives to retail outlets in a way that would produce an outcry from Opposition Members if we contemplated any such system. I think that the hon. Gentleman will have to bide his time and wait for the summer, when the present price control system runs out, to hear my conclusions on the system.