HL Deb 13 November 1980 vol 414 cc1547-9WA

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What have been the profits and losses of the British Steel Corporation, after provision for interest and depreciation, for each year since nationalisation expressed in 1979 survey prices; and

wage bargaining, is represented by alcoholic drinks and tobacco respectively; and why is tobacco, which is known to have a serious effect on the nation's health, still kept on the index.

The Earl of GOWRIE

In the retail prices index, alcoholic drink has a weight of 8.2 per cent. and tobacco of 4.0 per cent. The construction of the retail prices index follows the recommendations of the Retail Prices Index Advisory Committee which includes representative of the TUC, the CBI and trade and consumer organisations together with leading academic experts and government statisticians. While the Committee has explicitly recommended that the index should reflect price changes over the whole field of goods and services purchased by households, I accept that there may be a case for publishing the contributions of alcohol and tobacco separately.

Retail prices indices for all items excluding alcoholic drink, or tobacco, or both can be readily computed from published information. Figures for such indices compared with those in the "all items" index for the period since January 1974 were as follows:

from which sources have net losses been financed.


The profits and losses of the British Steel Corporation after provision for interest and depreciation for each year since nationalisation expressed in 1979 survey prices are as follows:

£ million 1978–79 prices
1967–68 29 Loss
1968–69 70 Loss
1969–70 29* Profit
1970–71 27 Loss
1971–72 175 Loss
1972–73 7 Profit
1973–74 71 Profit
1974–75 117 Profit
1975–76 360 Loss
1976–77 117 Loss
1977–78 478 Loss
1978–79 309 Loss
1979–80 470 Loss
*The 1969–70 financial year covers only six months as a result of a change in the accounting period from a September to a March year-end. The corporation's net losses have been financed out of capital provided by the Government; since 1st April 1978 this has been through subscriptions of capital under Section 18(1) of the Iron and Steel Act 1975.