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Cost Of Living

Volume 531: debated on Tuesday 27 July 1954

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asked the Minister of Labour if he is aware of the concern caused by the fact that the cost-of-living index has again risen in June; and what action is being taken to reduce the cost of living.

The Retail Prices Index in June stood at the same level as in April, after a temporary reduction of one point in May. The index has been relatively stable for over a year and is only one point above the figure for June, 1953. The Government will continue to pursue the policies which have been responsible for this satisfactory change from the years of rapidly rising prices.

Does the hon. Gentleman disagree with the statement that in June the index was two points higher than it was on 1st January, 1954, four points higher than on 1st January, 1953, and 13 points higher than it was on 1st November, 1951, when the Government took office? As a Minister in a Government that won power on the promise to reduce the cost of living, how can he be so complacent?

I also agree that from June, 1947, to June, 1951, the index rose by 25 points.

Would the hon. Gentleman tell us why it is that at a time when throughout Europe for the last three years prices have been stationary or falling, in this country prices have gone up so much?

That is not quite correct. Once the economy had won clear of the backlash of the previous Government's administration prices remained stable, as accurately measured by the index.

Owing to the unsatisfactory answer, I give notice that I will raise the matter on the Adjournment.