HC Deb 03 December 1920 vol 135 cc1617-8W

asked the President of the Board of Trade how it is that, while the cost of clothing, including boots, has shown a substantial reduction, the index figure given in the "Labour Gazette" as to the cost of living, of which a contributing factor is the cost of clothing, shows a considerable rise; and whether, as this index figure is the basis for the successive Civil Service bonus schemes and also of demands for increased wages, he will cause a careful investigation to be made into the compilation of the figures forming the basis of the statement in the "Labour Gazette," and inform the House of the result of his inquiry?


I have been asked to repy to this question. The reductions in the prices of clothing and boots during October were much more than counterbalanced by increases in the prices of some of the principal articles of food. Of these, the price of bread rose, on average, by nearly 3½d. per four lbs., and that of flour by 7¼d. per seven lbs. following on the reduction of the subsidy. The prices of milk, eggs and butter also rose considerably, and there was a slight rise in the average level of rents owing to increases in local rates in some districts. I am satisfied that these increases are sufficient to account for the rise in the Ministry of Labour index number between 1st October and 1st November. I may add that my hon. Friend will find detailed particulars of the increases on page 604 of the "Labour Gazette" for November, a copy of which has been sent to him, and I am also sending him an extract from the "Labour Gazette" for March last, which contains a full explanation of the methods employed in compiling the index number.