Retail Price Index

Oral Answers to Questions — Prices and Consumer Protection – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 8th March 1976.

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Photo of Dennis Canavan Dennis Canavan , Stirlingshire West 12:00 am, 8th March 1976

asked the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection what is the latest available monthly rise in the Retail Price Index; and if she will make a statement.

Photo of Mrs Shirley Williams Mrs Shirley Williams , Hertford and Stevenage

There was a 1·3 per cent. rise in the General Index of Retail Prices between 9th December 1975 and 13th January 1976. Combined with the year-on-year figure, which has declined for the fifth successive month and now stands at 23·4 per cent., this clearly demonstrates that the Government's anti-inflation policies are succeeding.

Photo of Dennis Canavan Dennis Canavan , Stirlingshire West

Can my right hon. Friend estimate how long working people will be expected to suffer a situation in which prices rise faster than wages? Does she agree that the retail price index will continue to rise as a result of the disastrous Common Market deal made at the weekend which will push up even further the prices of basic foodstuffs?

Photo of Mrs Shirley Williams Mrs Shirley Williams , Hertford and Stevenage

It is perhaps worth pointing out to my hon. Friend that as at January basic hourly wage rates on a year-on-year basis rose by 26·2 per cent. whereas the RPI rose by 23·4 per cent. It is true that the increase in earnings was below the RPI increase because of short-time working and loss of overtime. There is no doubt that if we do not cope with inflation at the rate at which it was running last year—and the Government are convinced that the policy entered into voluntarily by the TUC is a crucial element in doing so—the greatest sufferers will be the poorest people and not those with the bargaining power to resist.

Photo of Mr Neil Marten Mr Neil Marten , Banbury

Will the right hon. Lady answer the question which I put to her earlier? How can she, as a member of the Cabinet and the Minister for consumer protection, possibly condone the Brussels price review, which will cause prices to increase?

Photo of Mrs Shirley Williams Mrs Shirley Williams , Hertford and Stevenage

The hon. Gentleman tries very hard, but that does not arise on this Question.