Advertising Expenditure

Oral Answers to Questions — Trade and Commerce – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 2nd November 1954.

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Mr. H. Wilson:

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will give an estimate of the total national expenditure on advertising for 1948 or 1949 and for the latest date.

Photo of Mr Henry Strauss Mr Henry Strauss , Norwich South

No official estimate is available. The best available estimate, made by the Advertising Association, gives the approximate figures of £144 million for 1949 and £230 million for 1953.

Mr. Wilson:

Do not these figures, issued by the Advertising Association, show that expenditure has practically doubled since 1948? Does the hon. and learned Gentleman not consider that this is a wasteful use of our resources? Furthermore, is he aware that in 1948 Sir Stafford Cripps, in effect, dropped his proposals to tax advertising on receiving an assurance from industry that expenditure on advertising would be kept down to a reasonable limit?

Photo of Mr Henry Strauss Mr Henry Strauss , Norwich South

The right hon. Gentleman will appreciate that his Question asked only for statistical information. On the merits, I think there is no general agreement among economists on this matter, but I do not think it would be advisable to discuss that in Question and answer now.

Photo of Mr Ian Harvey Mr Ian Harvey , Harrow East

Is my hon. and learned Friend aware that this expenditure is less than 2 per cent. of the national income and that quite a proportion of it is contributed by the co-operative societies?

Photo of Mr Henry Strauss Mr Henry Strauss , Norwich South

I was careful not to speculate at all on these controversial subjects, but my hon. Friend is quite right that it is a small proportion of the national product that is represented. As regards the difference between the two years, more goods are now being advertised.

Mr. Wilson:

Would the hon. and gallant Gentleman not agree that some of these resources should be diverted to actual production or investment?

Photo of Mr Henry Strauss Mr Henry Strauss , Norwich South

In answer to a purely statistical question I do not propose to debate a matter which is the subject of dispute among economists, as the right hon. Gentleman knows perfectly well.