asked the Minister of Labour in what industries wages are based upon his Department's Cost-of-Living Index; how many people are affected; and what difference would it make to the Cost-of-Living Index if all food subsidies were withdrawn.
Only two agreements have come to the notice of my Department under which wage rates are to be subject to adjustment in correspondence with movements in the new index of retail prices. These agreements relate to the building industry in England and Wales and waterproof garment manufacture, and cover about three-quarters of a million workers. If all food subsidies were withdrawn, and if retail prices were adjusted by amounts equivalent to the subsidies, it is estimated that the retail prices index would rise by about 12 points.
Is it not a fact that all civil servants' salaries depend upon the fluctuation in the Cost-of-Living Index, and why has he omitted them? In view of the Chancellor's earlier promise that food subsidies would have to be revised, if not entirely eliminated, what progress is he making with the T.U.C. on this very thorny and important problem?
There is quite a bunch of supplementary questions there, but so far as the Civil Service is concerned, I was not asked that question; I was asked about industries and I have given the fullest information I have. There are two industries concerned. With reference to the Trades Union Congress, and so on, those organisations which had a sliding scale in their agreements before the index was changed are at present in negotiation as to what changes shall be made in the future.