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Volume 932: debated on Thursday 26 May 1977

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asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what has been the change in the average weekly wage between March 1974 and the present time expressed in terms of current £ sterling.

Between March 1974 and April 1977 the index of basic rates of wages rose by 79·4 per cent. After adjusting for inflation, this represented a real increase of 2·1 per cent.

Is the Minister of State aware that the actual standard of living has fallen by 4 per cent. since the present Government came into office? Is he further aware that if we have another 25 years of Labour Government—God forbid!—we shall have no standard of living left at all?

I am perfectly aware that the standard of living has fallen over the last three years. I am also aware that one major reason for that was the policies of of the Government of which the hon. Gentleman was a member. The best guarantee that this trend will not continue is to keep the Opposition in opposition for the next 25 years.

How does that figure compare with the increase in pensions since March 1974, taking into account yesterday's increase?

Despite the fall in the standard of living of most people, we have been able to maintain the purchasing power of pensions. However, the Conservative Party wants to reduce public expenditure, and especially current spending, and such a reduction would have to fall on pensions and social security benefits.