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Personal Incomes, Scotland

Volume 649: debated on Tuesday 21 November 1961

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asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what number of incomes before tax, for the latest convenient 12-month period in Scotland, totalled under £400 per annum, and under £600 per annum, respectively; and if he will state the comparable figures in respect of England and Wales together.

The latest year for which estimates have been made is 1954–55 and they relate only to incomes within the purview of the Inland Revenue Department, so that they exclude most incomes below the effective exemption limit (then £155 a year). The figures for Scotland are 1 million and 1·6 million, respectively, and for England and Wales 8·5 million and 14·3 million. The combined incomes of a married couple are counted as one unit.

No wonder the Prime Minister apologised at the Guildhall the other week for his speech some years ago about never having had it so good. Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the figures he has quoted represent the actual position in Scotland, not only then but at present, much more accurately than the reference to the misleading average of £15 per week so often quoted by his right hon. Friends? Will the Minister give us some indication of how he intends to ensure that those earning less than £7 14s. a week at present will be raised to the £20 a week level promised at Brighton by the Prime Minister?

If the hon. Gentleman would care to debate the issue of the widely diffused increase living standards of the 1950s I should be pleased to do so at any appropriate time either in this Chamber or outside. I should like to remind him of the simple Fabian calculation that over the country as a whole there was a 20 per cent. rise in living standards in the 1950s, and I hope that the hon. Gentleman will not forget the large improvement in the position from matters not directly related to personal income, like, for example, the improvement in the education service.