HC Deb 29 June 1967 vol 749 cc120-1W
38. Mr. Biffen

asked the First Secretary of State and Secretary of State for Economic Affairs what proposals he has for the voluntary consideration of proposed price increases in a manner similar to the arrangements whereby the Trades Union Congress considers wage claims by affiliated unions.

Mr. Frederick Lee

The Government are continuing discussions with the Confederation of British Industry and trade associations for the development of the voluntary early warning system as envisaged in paragraph 8 of Cmnd. 3235.

Mr. Arthur Lewis

asked the First Secretary of State and Secretary of State for Economic Affairs whether he will provide a more detailed explanation of the statement published by his Department on Thursday, 22nd June, and that of the 2½ per cent. rise in prices since July, 1966, 2 per cent. of this increase was due to the Government's own actions in increasing Purchase Tax, postal charges, Selective Employment Tax and seasonal charges; and by how much he estimates that prices will rise as a result of the forthcoming increases to be paid by workers and employers for social security contributions.

Mr. Frederick Lee

The published statement to which the hon. Member refers is, I assume my Department's Progress Report for June. This shows that about 1 per cent. of the rise in the Retail Price Index is accounted for by increases in Purchase Tax, S.E.T. and postal and telephone charges. Seasonal changes affecting foodstuffs and coal, which are independent of Government action, accounted for almost another 1 per cent.

I would not expect the relatively small increase in social security contributions to have a noticeable effect on retail price levels.