asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he is aware of the great diminution in the amount of money paid out in dividends since the beginning of the war as compared with the great increases in the amount paid out in wages and salaries; and whether he will encourage companies to disburse to their shareholders as much as they are permitted to earn in order that the latter may be able to maintain their commitments in face of the continually rising cost of living?
For various reasons, I do not think it serves any useful purpose to draw the comparison in the first part of my hon. Friend's Question, and I could not support any policy which would involve, in the normal case, the distribution of dividends in excess of the pre-war level. I would at the same time remind my hon. Friend that the cost of living is not continually rising. The index has been practically stable for about 18 months.