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Retail Prices Index

Volume 478: debated on Thursday 26 October 1950

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asked the Minister of Labour whether he is satisfied that the cost of living index adequately reflects the normal expenditure of an average family today.

The Interim Index of Retail Prices is not an index of expenditure but is a measure, in percentage form, of the average change in the general level of retail prices of a representative selection of items bought by working-class households. The selection of the items and the weight they carry in the index are based on the average pattern of consumption in 1937–38, as indicated by the comprehensive budget inquiry carried out in that period. There are no similar statistics regarding the normal expenditure of an average working-class family today, but there is no evidence to support the view that the final index would differ materially from the figure recorded by the present index if the statistics were calculated by reference to the current pattern of spending of the average family.