§ Mr. W. THORNE
asked the President of the Board of Trade if he is aware that a joint committee on the cost of living, a body appointed by the labour and trade union forces of the country, have issued a preliminary report of the cost of living; that the committee challenges the Minister of Labour's figures indicating the rise and fall in the cost of living since 1914; that the committee's inquiry is based on budgets of weekly family expenditure and shows that on a conservative estimate the cost of living in September, 1920, had increased 189 per cent, above that of 1914; that if a worker in receipt of a weekly wage of 25s. before the War has his wages regulated by the Ministry of Labour's index number, he would in September, 1920, be receiving 65s. 3d. per week, but according to the labourers' index number he should have been paid 72s. 3d. per week, or 7s. per week more; that according to the Minister of Labour the cost of living-index number fell from 161 in September, 1920, to 128 in May, 1921; that if the labour committee's figures are correct, the same proportionate fall in their index number would leave the cost of living in May, 1921, at 150 per cent, above July, 1914; and that there is a difference of 22 points in the figures governing wages to-day; and if he is in a position to state as to whether he is prepared to inquire into the matter?
§ Sir M. BARLOW
I have been asked to reply. I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply given yesterday to questions by the hon. Members for the Frome (Mr. Hurd) and Stratford Divisions (Mr. Lyle). I am sending my hon. Friend a copy of that reply.
Mr. G. MURRAY
asked the Minister of Labour whether he is aware of the want of confidence which exists in the country with regard to the cost of living index figures issued from time to time by his Depart- 1120W ment; and, in view of the importance attaching to these figures as affecting sliding scales of wages and the general industrial position, whether he will, with a view to securing public confidence in them, appoint, under the chairmanship of a Member of this or the other House, with at least two other Members of this House to assist him, a Standing Committee whose functions would be to keep in touch with and to advise him generally regarding the cost of living index figures?
§ Sir M. BARLOW
I would refer my hon. Friend to the answer given to him in reply to a similar question on the 13th June.