44. Mr. Gresham Cooke
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is his latest estimate of the total effect of the import surcharge, the increased petrol tax and the large insurance contributions on costs and prices; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Diamond
The higher National Insurance contributions do not come into effect until the end of March. As my right hon. Friend said in his Budget 203W statement on 11th November, the increase of 6d. a gallon in the hydro-carbon oil duties paid by road users raises the retail price index by one-fifth of a point immediately; and, because of the transport element in the cost of other things, by a further small fraction over a period of time. It is difficult to estimate the effect of the temporary import surcharge; as my right hon. Friend said on 22nd February, when announcing the 5 per cent, reduction to take effect from 27th April, a large number of people absorbed the charge and did not pass it on.