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Cost Of Living

Volume 529: debated on Thursday 8 July 1954

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asked the Minister of Labour to publish a comparison of the trends in the wages index and the cost-of-living index from June, 1947, up to the latest available date.

As the answer is in tabular form I will, with permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

While I appreciate that the figures may be somewhat lengthy, may I ask the Minister what is the increase in the respective figures since this Government came to power?

I am not sure that I could give that figure exactly, but I would say that the comparison between the Rates of Wages Index and the Retail Prices Index is that they started with the wages index below and they are now approximately the same

Following is the table:

PeriodRates of Wages IndexRetail Prices Index
June, 1947100100
Average of:
July-December, 1947102102
January-May, 1954140141
May, 1954142141


asked the Minister of Labour to what extent the Retail Prices Index has been influenced by the high prices for fresh vegetables in May and June.

The index figures for June are not yet available. In mid-May, apart from a small rise in the prices of potatoes, vegetable prices were generally no higher than in mid-April and they did not therefore induce any upward movement of the index figure for May. Between mid-March and mid-April, however, seasonable increases in the prices of fresh vegetables had raised the all items figure of the retail prices index by nearly one-half of a point.

Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman satisfied that the index correctly measures the changes in the cost of living? Surely the present abnormally high prices for fresh vegetables should make a greater difference to the index than he had indicated.

I do not think that there is any inaccuracy. In the Ministry of Labour Gazette we point out from time to time any changes of this sort which occur, and they can be differentiated from the whole index figures. I can show the hon. Gentleman relevant extracts from the Gazette, if it will assist him.