§ 69. Mr. G. Jeger
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he is aware that at the end of 1954 wage rates were only 4 to 5 per cent. higher than a year 128W earlier, while the general level of food prices had risen by nearly 8 per cent.; and whether, in the light of the new situation disclosed, he will take steps to reduce the cost of food.
§ Mr. R. A. Butler
Since food only accounts for about 40 per cent. of the Index of Retail Prices, a fair comparison with wage rates would be the All Items Index, which rose by only about 4 per cent. between the end of 1953 and the end of 1954.
As I have previously explained, the cost of living depends on many factors, some of which are outside the Government's control. So far as Government action is concerned, all our relevant policies are designed to prevent inflation forcing up prices; but I would not regard it as being in the best interests of the country, to attempt to bring about a reduction in the cost of living by artificial means.