HL Deb 02 November 1949 vol 165 cc22-3

2.38 p.m.


My Lords, I beg to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

[The Question was as follows:

To ask His Majesty's Government what is the evidence for the statement frequently made by Government spokesmen that the volume of production during the last year was 130 per cent. of the pre-war volume.]


My Lords, I assume that the noble Viscount refers to the statement made by the noble Viscount, Lord Hall, during the debate on the exchange value of the pound on September 28, that production in the first quarter of this year was 30 per cent. above the 1938 volume. The evidence for this statement appears in the Monthly Digest of Statistics, which gives the change since 1946 in the Interim Index of Industrial Production. Four hundred individual series of output—such as tons of iron and steel, weight of cloth produced and number of houses built—are used in compiling this index. A full list of these series is given in the Memorandum on the Interim Index of Industrial Production, published by His Majesty's Stationery Office. The figures for many of these series are, themselves, given regularly in the Monthly Digest. They show that the rate of industrial production in the first quarter of 1949 was running at about 30 per cent. above 1946.

The comparison between 1946 and 1938 is more difficult because there is not the same amount of data available. An attempt has been made to compare these two years using about 250 statistical series, and the results are given and explained in full in Part II of the Memorandum on the Interim Index of Industrial Production. One method of comparison showed that production in 1946 was slightly higher than in 1938, another that it was slightly less than in 1938, and, on balance, it is reasonable to assume that the level of production in 1946 was not very different from that in 1938. That being so, the percentage increase of production between 1938 and the first quarter of 1949 was about the same as the increase between 1946 and 1949—namely, about 30 per cent.


My Lords, arising out of that answer, I would remark that I will reserve most of what I have to say for the debate. But is it not a fact that the document to which the noble Lord has referred says that it is really impracticable to make any comparison between production in 1938 and production at the present time?


My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Viscount for reserving his questions for the debate and not addressing them to me. I will undertake to look into the matter which he has just raised, and perhaps discuss it with him later on.