HL Deb 12 February 1973 vol 338 cc1236-7

2.39 p.m.


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

The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether, as they have now declared that the arrest of the menace of inflation is their primary concern, they will mount a national campaign illustrating the danger facing this country from the disasters which overtook Germany and other countries when their currencies became valueless, so as to secure, before it is too late, the support of all citizens in the fight against this scourge.


My Lords, I take due note of the noble Lord's suggestions. I would remind the noble Lord, however, that the Government have constantly emphasised the threat that inflation poses to our future prosperity. It is, moreover, clear that the nation as a whole now realises the dangers of unrestrained inflation.


My Lords, I should like to thank the noble Earl for that very helpful reply. I would ask whether talks about inflation in general really convey what is happening. Is it not true, to put it in simple terms, that every time there is an increase in prices or an increase in wages the Government have to print extra notes, or the equivalent, and that by their so doing the value of the currency continues to fall? And if this continues, will not the currency, sooner rather than later, become valueless, so that not even a suitcase full of notes will buy a pound of butter?


My Lords, I would not at all dissent from the proposition that galloping inflation can be disastrous to this country, as indeed it can be to any country. I think that is a proposition which the House as a whole would endorse, as was made clear in our debate on this subject only a week ago. To that extent I would certainly agree with the noble Lord.


My Lords, would the noble Earl say at what point inflation becomes "galloping"?


My Lords, I think that it had got into a pretty strong gallop by about November last year; but, A course, we must keep a sense of proportion here. It is a very different state of affairs from the comparison which the noble Lord has drawn of the Weimar Republic, when in one month prices rose by 32,000 per cent. We are a long way short of that, my Lords; but there are great dangers unless we can arrest the inflation, which I think we are all determined to arrest in the best way we can.


My Lords, would not the noble Earl the Leader of the House agree that one thing not to do is to put it in simple terms, because it is not a simple matter or one to be dealt with by scaremongering statements?


My Lords, I would not necessarily dissent from what the noble Baroness has said, but I would add that I do not think it is a matter which can be dealt with by question and answer.