§ 2.46 p.m.
§ LORD REDESDALE
My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.
§ [The Question was as follows:
§ To ask Her Majesty's Government whether, in view of recent statements made by them, the statistics produced for the Prices and Incomes Board on the laundry and dry-cleaning industries will be continued on a running basis.]
§ THE PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY, BOARD OF TRADE (LORD RHODES)
No, my Lords. These statistics were produced by the National Board for Prices and Incomes for their report on laundry and dry-cleaning charges. Her Majesty's Government are satisfied that the statistics normally available to them are sufficient for the discharge of their continuing responsibilities in relation to these industries. The Board of Trade will require more detailed information from individual laundries for the exercise of their responsibilities under the Prices and Incomes Act 1966, but this need not involve statistics about the industry in general.
§ LORD REDESDALE
My Lords, while I am grateful to the noble Lord for the information given in his reply, I should like to ask him whether the information given in the original Prices and Incomes Board report is not relevant to future inquiries and investigations which presumably the Government will have to make if they are to relax Order No. 1?
§ LORD RHODES
My Lords, may I help the noble Lord? A small sample of 600 firms is taken by the Ministry of Labour to make a rough index for the Retail Price Index. The Board of Trade get monthly returns for the purpose of turnover, and then every few years, I think about every five years, there is a Census of Distribution which also collates the figures. We have a dual role in this respect, and I should like to explain it to the noble Lord. On the one hand, we are following up with firms concerned complaints about increases and are considering whether directions under Section 1153 27 of the Act should be applied to any of these. On the other hand, we are considering applications from laundries for consent to increase prices. In the former, we have received from the public about 1,135 complaints, and from the laundry industry as a whole about 44 applications for increases.