Oral Answers to Questions — Dividends and Prices (Stabilisation)

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 13th May 1948.

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Photo of Sir Patrick Hannon Sir Patrick Hannon , Birmingham Moseley 12:00 am, 13th May 1948

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on the response to his appeal for the stabilisation and reduction of dividends and prices made through the conjoint effort of the Federation of British Industries, the National Union of Manufacturers and the British Association of Chambers of Commerce.

Photo of Mr Douglas Jay Mr Douglas Jay , Battersea North

It is not possible as yet to make any further statement on this matter, or to evaluate the response which has been made to the Chancellor's request for a reduction in prices. If the organisations concerned would publish the lists of reductions which have taken place the public would then be able to form their own opinion.

Photo of Sir Patrick Hannon Sir Patrick Hannon , Birmingham Moseley

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the organisations concerned are doing everything possible to respond to the Chancellor's appeal? If I put another Question after the Recess, rimy I have a reply then?

Photo of Mr Douglas Jay Mr Douglas Jay , Battersea North

I hope it will be possible to make a statement later.

Photo of Major Donald Bruce Major Donald Bruce , Portsmouth North

When will my hon. Friend be able to inform the House of his opinion about this matter, because there is an impression that the response so far has not been too satisfactory in many cases?

Photo of Mr Douglas Jay Mr Douglas Jay , Battersea North

I could not say, precisely.

Photo of Mr David Eccles Mr David Eccles , Chippenham

As a number of British companies operating outside the United Kingdom are concerned with the development of raw materials, and badly need fresh capital, does the hon. Gentleman think they should observe the dividend restriction, or would it not be better, in the interests of everybody, that they should pursue the ordinary course of business?

Photo of Mr Douglas Jay Mr Douglas Jay , Battersea North

We hope that dividend restriction will be general, but that is really a separate question.

Photo of Mr Edgar Granville Mr Edgar Granville , Eye

Have not the overwhelming majority of companies responded to the invitation of the Government? Have they not made it absolutely clear to the F.B.I. and the Government that they are willing and ready to cooperate on a voluntary basis?

Photo of Mr Douglas Jay Mr Douglas Jay , Battersea North

A large number of them have, but I doubt whether they are the overwhelming majority.

Photo of Flight Lieut Wavell Wakefield Flight Lieut Wavell Wakefield , St Marylebone

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that certain Government Departments have recently put up their prices? How does he expect companies and public bodies to reduce their prices, when the Government do exactly the opposite.

Photo of Sir Malcolm Stoddart-Scott Sir Malcolm Stoddart-Scott , Pudsey and Otley

Is it not very difficult for the public to judge, when Purchase Tax has been increased on many household and other articles and when subsidies have been taken off certain articles, and prices have increased in spite of the fact that manufacturers have decreased their prices?

Photo of Mr Douglas Jay Mr Douglas Jay , Battersea North

Surely the hon. and gallant Member realises that the Purchase Tax has been increased only on luxury or semi-luxury articles and goods. In reply to the hon. Member for St. Marylebone (Sir W. Wakefield), it was recognised in the White Paper on Personal Incomes, Costs and Prices that there might be some cases where a rise both in wages and prices would be justified.