asked the Secretary of State for Employment whether he will publish an index of the ratio between the old and new indices of average earnings; whether he can explain any significant variations in that index; and whether he will list the differences between the coverage of the old and new indices.
No. The new index covers virtually the whole economy, whereas the old index has a smaller coverage. The main differences, as explained in the April 1976 issue of the Department's Gazette, are the inclusion in the new index of distributive trades; insurance, banking and finance; professional and scientific services; public administration; forestry; Post Office; certain miscellaneous services; and Government employees in manufacturing and construction industries. A ratio of the old and new indices would have no particular meaning, because it would fluctuate from month to month depending on experience in the additional activities covered in the new index, where differential monthly fluctuations might be expected on account of the timing of pay settlements, bonuses and other periodical payments, seasonal movements and shortterm variations in earnings.