HC Deb 10 February 1959 vol 599 cc177-8W
Mr. Lewis

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he is aware that, taking the first half of 1950 as equalling 100, the average cost of food imports rose by the second half of 1951 to 140 whilst, for the same period, our exports rose by only 125 per cent., that, since then, for the first half of 1958, import prices have decreased to 121, whilst exports have increased to 132, but that, nevertheless, the cost of living has continued to rise to such an extent that the £ sterling is only worth 15s. 4d. in spending power, compared with 20s. in October 1951; and what action he proposes to take to change this position.

Mr. D. Amory

I am, of course, aware of the movements of prices, production and unemployment to which the hon. Member refers. The rise in prices since 1951 has been the result mainly of higher domestic incomes and other costs, which have a much greater influence on their trend than the movement of import prices. During the last twelve months the Retail Price Index has risen much less than in previous years, in spite of a continued rise in incomes, and it is satisfactory that there has been this progress towards stability of prices. Statements of the Government's attitude towards these matters have been made from time to time, and will, no doubt, be made again at appropriate times.