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Volume 888: debated on Monday 17 March 1975

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asked the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection what arrangements there are in her Department for evaluating trends in inflation.

The Under-Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection
(Mr. Robert Maclennan)

My Department is closely involved with other Whitehall Departments in evaluating trends in inflation both in this country and overseas.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that in the third Sitting of Standing Committee B dealing with the Prices Bill figures were given which implied an inflation rate of 12½ per cent.? Will the hon. Gentleman now revise that figure? If not, will be improve the techniques in his Department for forecasting the trend of inflation?

The figures of retail price indices are compiled by the Department of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Employment. Any questions about their accuracy should be addressed to that Department.

We are all greatly concerned about the inflationary situation, but does my hon. Friend accept that one hopeful sign is that for the first time there are indications that the special retail price index constructed for pensioners and similar groups is now moving less severely than the general index?

There is a later Question on the Order Paper about this matter. Generally speaking, I accept what my hon. Friend says.

As the increase in the cost of living over the past 12 months since the Government came into power has almost doubled, as this is the highest rate of increase ever recorded, and as it is continuing to accelerate at a catastrophic rate, may I ask the right hon. Lady whether she will tell the House what she and the Government intend to do about it?

The hon. Lady does not seem to be aware that I am answering this Question. Had she wished to make that point, which arose out of the previous Question, she could have put it then to my right hon. Friend.