§ Mr. Peter Bottomley
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will estimate the social wage for 1981–82, in terms comparable with the figure given in 1976, Official Report, 27 May 1976, column 325; and if he will make a statement on how it is composed.
§ Mr. Brittan
As my predecessor explained to the hon. Member for York (Mr. Lyon) on 6 July 1979—[Vol. 969, c.777]—and to the hon. Member for Birkenhead (Mr. Field) on 1 November 1979—[Vol. 972, c. 633]—the social wage as defined by the last Government was simply total expenditure on certain of the programmes on the public expenditure survey in any particular year divided by the number of people in the working population. I find it difficult to see any value in such a figure. For example, it cannot be combined with gross earnings because it is financed—inter alia—out of those earnings, nor can it be added to personal disposable income as that includes the pensions and other cash benefits already included in the social wage.