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Retail Price Index

Volume 774: debated on Monday 25 November 1968

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asked the Secretary of State for Employment and Productivity what is the estimated effect of the prices and incomes policy on the retail price index; and what this represents in additional available consumer expediture at annual rates.

It is not possible to make a precise estimate of the amount, nor of the policy's contribution to the policy of import substitution.

Cannot the hon. Gentleman confirm that the avowed intention of the Government's prices policy is that the retail price index should be lower than it otherwise would be if no such policy existed, even if only to give the Chancellor the occasion subsequently to put on consumption taxes to raise that index?

It is the intention of the prices policy to limit unnecessary and unjustifiable price increases. As I have explained, that is an integral part of our economic policy in terms of import substitution.

Has the hon. Gentleman forgotten the algebraic appendix to Mr. Aubrey Jones's last report which suggests that the policy has had no effect on prices?

I have not forgotten that, nor the hon. Gentleman's peculiar gloss on the appendix, nor the shouts from hon. Members opposite before he came in that the prices policy was being too successful.


asked the Secretary of State for Employment and Productivity what were the increases in the index of retail prices for nationalised industries, for food, for housing, for fuel and light, for durable household goods, for clothing and footwear, for transport and vehicles, for miscellaneous goods, for services and for all items in the index since October, 1964, since July, 1966, and since November, 1967, respectively, to the latest convenient date.

As the reply contains a table of figures, I will, with permission, circulate a statement in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Do not the figures show that the £ in our pockets at the time of devaluation is now worth only 19s.?

As the hon. Gentleman is so certain of what the figures would show, I am not sure why he asked me the Question.

Following are the percentage increases:

13th October, 1964 to 15th October, 196819th July, 1966 to 15th October, 196814th November, 1967 to 15th October, 1968
Nationalised industries25·113·56·1
Fuel and light25·415·05·8
Durable house-hold goods11·77·25·1
Clothing and footwear8·43·82·1
Transport and vehicles18·210·26·2
Miscellaneous goods21·213·411·1
All items17·18·45·0


1. The items included under the heading "nationalised industries" are—

  • Coal
  • Coke
  • Gas
  • Electricity
  • Road and rail passenger transport
  • Postal and telephone services

2. These items are also included in other groups as follows:

  • Coal, coke, gas and electricity in Fuel and light.
  • Road and rail passenger transport in Transport and vehicles.
  • Postal and telephone services in Services.