HL Deb 17 March 1965 vol 264 cc368-9

3.55 p.m.


My Lords, may I intervene into this very interesting debate to repeat a Statement that has just been made by my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Economic Affairs in another place? The Statement reads as follows:

"I am authorised by the Prime Minister to inform the House that Her Majesty, the Queen, has been pleased to indicate Her approval of the appointment of the right honourable Gentleman, the Member for Hall Green (Mr. Aubrey Jones), as Chairman of the National Board for Prices and Incomes. The names of the members of the Board will be announced in the near future. The House will also be pleased to know that good progress is being made in the discussions with the other parties concerned about the considerations which should govern the behaviour of prices and incomes and by which the Board will be largely guided. I hope to make an announcement about the outcome of these discussions soon."


My Lords, I thank the noble Lord for giving us this information which, either by clairvoyance or intelligent anticipation, has already been understood by newspapers for several days. I am also glad to hear that good progress is being made in considering the "guiding light", as we used to call it, which is going to govern the behaviour of prices, I hope not in a steeply upward direction. The noble Lord will no doubt acknowledge that the recent fall in the cost of living in Scotland by 7s. a bottle is entirely due to the action of the late Government in passing the Resale Prices Act.


My Lords, we all welcome, I am sure, this appointment, but could the noble Lord say whether the Chairman of this body will be entirely independent and will be there to make reports and advise the Secretary of State and the Government, or will he be in the nature in any way of an official of the Secretary of State's Department and take instructions from the Secretary of State?


My Lords, I am indeed grateful for the welcome which has been given to this Statement by the noble Earl, Lord Dundee, and the noble Earl, Lord Swinton. I am sure we are all very pleased that Mr. Aubrey Jones has been able to accept the appointment, and he is doing so, I may say, at considerable financial sacrifice. In regard to the point made by the noble Earl, Lord Swinton, concerning independence, I am quite sure that this is an appointment of independence and that there is no question of his being an official of a Ministry. Certainly there will be the guiding principles of Government policy, but the Board will have full independence within it.