HC Deb 25 January 1968 vol 757 cc159-60W
58. Dr. Miller

asked the Secretary of State for Economic Affairs if he will take steps to deal with traders who raise prices without the justification of higher import or transport costs.

Mr. Frederick Lee

As my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister emphasised on 18th January, price increases to be made for any reason other than higher import costs following devaluation have to be most strictly justified against the existing agreed criteria. Prices which appear to have been raised without a clear justification will be referred for investigation by the National Board for Prices and Incomes. We will also, where necessary, make full use of our reserve powers under the Prices and Incomes Acts, 1966 and 1967.

59. Mr. Biffen

asked the Secretary of State for Economic Affairs how many letters have been received concerning price increases since devaluation; how these were divided between the Departments with relevant responsibility for the Government's prices and incomes policy; and how many of these letters resulted in price increases being rescinded or not being implemented.

Mr. Frederick Lee

It is regretted that this information is not readily available and cannot be provided because of the disproportionate amount of time and cost required to obtain it.

Mr. Hamling

asked the Secretary of State for Economic Affairs whether he will now set up an inquiry into the practice of merchants and retailers making general price increases and falsely attributing these rises to devaluation.

Mr. Frederick Lee

We think it preferable to refer to the National Board for Prices and Incomes increases in prices which do not appear to be clearly justified either by higher import costs due to devaluation or by other reasons which measure up fully to the criteria for prices in Comnd. 3235.