Wages

Oral Answers to Questions — Economic Affairs – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 4th April 1968.

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Photo of Hon. Nicholas Ridley Hon. Nicholas Ridley , Cirencester and Tewkesbury 12:00 am, 4th April 1968

asked the Secretary of State for Economic Affairs by what percentage wages have risen since the sign ing of the Declaration of Intent on prices and incomes; and by how much it was estimated they would rise, during the same period, before the declaration was signed.

Hon. Members:

Hurry up.

Photo of Mr Peter Shore Mr Peter Shore , Stepney

I apologise to you, Mr. Speaker, to the House, and to the hon. Member, for the delay.

From December, 1964, until February, 1968, the Ministry of Labour weekly wage rate index rose by 17·3 per cent., and the hourly wage rate index—which reflects changes in the standard working week—rose by 21·4 per cent.

No estimate of wage movements covering this period was made at the time of the Declaration of Intent.

Photo of Hon. Nicholas Ridley Hon. Nicholas Ridley , Cirencester and Tewkesbury

I thought that the Government believed in planning. Is the right hon. Gentleman saying that he brought in the Declaration of Intent without having made any plans for the growth of incomes during the next three years?

Photo of Mr Peter Shore Mr Peter Shore , Stepney

I did not bring in the Declaration of Intent, but I think the hon. Gentleman will be aware that it was the first step in the evolution of a prices and incomes policy, and that it was what its title suggests, a declaration of intent.

Photo of Mr James Dickens Mr James Dickens , Lewisham West

Would not my right hon. Friend agree that the increase in money wages in Britain since 1964 has been one of the lowest in any West European country? Would he also confirm that the rate of increase in unearned incomes in this country since 1961 has been among the highest?

Photo of Mr Peter Shore Mr Peter Shore , Stepney

I am not sure about the answer to the second part of my hon. Friend's question about unearned incomes, but if he puts down a Question I shall try to deal with it. As regards increases in earnings, I think that the increase in Britain during this period is not out of line with increases in incomes in comparable European countries. Where we have fallen behind is in the increase in output which should go with it.

Photo of Mr Terence Higgins Mr Terence Higgins , Worthing

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that if he takes that long to find Answers to Questions we shall need injury time added on? Can he say why the original object of the Government's policy, which was to keep incomes in line with increases in real output, has been changed to merely keeping increases in incomes at a somewhat slower rate than the increase in the cost of living, which is what the White Paper now does?

Photo of Mr Peter Shore Mr Peter Shore , Stepney

I do not accept that there has been the change suggested by the hon. Gentleman.