§ 3.45 p.m.
§ THE MINISTER WITHOUT PORTFOLIO (LORD CHAMPION)
My Lords, with your Lordships' permission, I should like to make a Statement similar to that which my right honourable friend, the First Secretary of State, has just made in another place in reply to a question about the cases which he proposes to refer to the National Board for Prices and Incomes. If I may, I will use his own words, which are as follows:
"The Government have decided to refer three price cases, those of standard bread and of flour used in its manufacture; of soap and detergents; and the rates for road haulage as recommended to its members by the Road Haulage Association.
846 "These are all cases of special significance for the cost of living or for industrial costs and give rise to special concern. The price of the standard loaf was again increased last November following a series of increases as a result of which the price has gone up very substantially since the beginning of 1960. The prices of many soaps and detergents have increased substantially over the past year. In the case of road haulage rates, there have been three increases recommended in nine months. The Minister of Transport has asked the Road Haulage Association to postpone the effective date of their latest recommendation by a period not exceeding four weeks to give the Board time to make its Report.
"Representatives of the industries and trades concerned have been told of the Government's intention, and I am confident that they will co-operate to the best of their ability in the Board's inquiries."
§ THE EARL OF DUNDEE
My Lords, I thank the noble Lord for repeating this Statement. In the November Budget there was a heavy increase in the price of petrol, and another in the April Budget in the motor vehicles duty, which, as we pointed out, are bound to raise the cost of road haulage and to reduce accordingly our competitive power. However, I am glad to hear from the noble Lord's Statement that the Government are doing their best to see that the damage to our economy from their own fiscal measures will not be any greater than is absolutely necessary. I hope that the incomes and prices policy will be successful, and I am sure your Lordships will wish to give every support to the National Board for Prices and Incomes in carrying out its functions.
§ LORD CHAMPION
My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Earl for what he has said, except for the little sly dig that he always has on these occasions about the responsibility of the Government for any price increases which have taken place. Clearly, the increases which have taken place, both in the fuel tax and the vehicle Excise duties, will enter into the consideration of the Board when it has these matters before it.