HC Deb 16 November 1939 vol 353 cc832-3W
Rear-Admiral Beamish

asked the President of the Board of Trade what will be the rough index figure of increase in the cost of living for the London area to be caused by the impending rise of is for England and Scotland and is. 4d. for Wales in the pit-head price per ton of coal, as reflected into the increase of 2½d. per therm for gas; and will he say what he proposes to do, seeing that this rise in the pit-head price of coal partially defeats the aim of the Prices of Goods Bill, now before Parliament, to check increase in the general cost of living?

Mr. Stanley

The effect of the increase of 2½d. per therm in the price of gas in London will be to raise the official cost-of-living index figure, for the United Kingdom as a whole, by about one-fourth of one point. No separate index figure is compiled for the London area. I am unable to say to what extent the cost-of-living index figures will be affected, as a result of the increases in the pit-head prices of coal, until information is available as to the effects of these increases on retail prices generally in the United Kingdom. An increase of between 1s. and 1s. 4d. per ton in retail prices of coal would, however, raise the index figure by about one-fourth of a point.

As regards the second part of the question, it is not intended to apply the provisions of the Prices of Goods Bill to coal, the price of which is already controlled by other means. In so far as the increase in the price of coal is reflected in the increased prices of other essential goods for the manufacture of which coal is needed, the Prices of Goods Bill will ensure that the prices of those goods to which it is applied are not advanced by more than can be reasonably attributed to the increased cost of coal.