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Weekly Earnings

Volume 486: debated on Tuesday 10 April 1951

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asked the Minister of Labour to state the percentage increase since 1938 in the average weekly earnings of the industrial workers of Great Britain to the nearest date for which statistics are available with the increase in the cost of living since 1938 to the same date.

Figures showing the percentage increase between October, 1938, and October, 1950, in the average weekly earnings of manual wage-earners in the manufacturing industries and in some of the principal non-manufacturing industries were published in the Ministry of Labour Gazette for March, 1951, copies of which are available in the Library. No official index of the change, between 1938 and the present time, in the average level of retail prices for working-class households is available.

Is the Minister aware that most wage earners consider that the cost of living index grossly under-states the real rise in the cost of living? Can he state when a new and real cost of living index will be produced?

I am more aware that hon. Gentlemen opposite tend to do that rather than people in industry. As the hon. Gentleman knows, the Committee are sitting again, and as soon as they come to finality on the point, the House will be told.

Since the hon. Member does not know what the increase in the cost of living is, how is it that the Chancellor of the Exchequer has been able to work out changes in the value of the pound over the same period?

The retail index in use is a temporary one on an entirely different basis from the previous one.