Unemployment, Wages and Cost of Living

Oral Answers to Questions — Employment – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 20th July 1964.

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Photo of Mr Arthur Lewis Mr Arthur Lewis , West Ham North 12:00 am, 20th July 1964

asked the Minister of Labour whether he will publish in HANSARD a table of figures giving for each quarter in each calendar year since January, 1952, the percentage rise or fall in unemployment, wages, and the cost of living; and to what extent he estimates the increase in taxation and Government expenditure since 1952 has been responsible for the increase in the index of retail prices.

Photo of Mr Joseph Godber Mr Joseph Godber , Grantham

Changes in rates of Purchase Tax and in Customs and Excise duties are estimated to have raised the index of retail prices by about 3 per cent. since January, 1952. It is not possible to estimate the effect on the index of retail prices of changes in Government expenditure.

The other figures for which the hon. Member asks are available from material published in the Ministry of Labour Gazette and the Monthly Digest of Statistics.

Photo of Mr Arthur Lewis Mr Arthur Lewis , West Ham North

Do not the figures show that since 1952 retail prices have increased by 49 per cent., food by 56 per cent., taxes on fuel, spirits, tobacco and so on, including sweets, by 33 per cent., while the value of the £ has fallen to 13s. 4d. and our import prices and world prices have been dropping? Does the Minister subscribe to the remark made last week by the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when he said that the rise in food prices was due to Government policy in abolishing food subsidies, even though they faithfully promised that they would not do so?

Photo of Mr Joseph Godber Mr Joseph Godber , Grantham

Out of that interesting set of statistics there was one fact which the hon. Gentleman no doubt overlooked to mention. This was that during that period average earnings rose by 98 per cent. Therefore, every section of the community is better off, in spite of the figures which the hon. Gentleman has given.

Photo of Mr Kenneth Lewis Mr Kenneth Lewis , Rutland and Stamford

Does not my right hon. Friend agree that my hon. namesake opposite has probably been so involved in going on a whistle-stop tour letting people in the country see how prosperous he is under the Conservatives that he has not been able to read up the facts?

Photo of Mr Joseph Godber Mr Joseph Godber , Grantham

I hope that the hon. Gentleman opposite will be able to continue to prosper under a Tory Government for many years to come.