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Volume 955: debated on Thursday 3 August 1978

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asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will publish a table showing, for each month increase to date, the rate of inflation as defined by the percentage in 1978 on the retail price index, excluding seasonal foods, over the preceding six months, expressed as an annual rate.

The annualised six-monthly rate of increase in the general index of retail prices, excluding seasonal foods, over the period January-June 1978 is as follows:

per cent.
January 19787·4
February 19787·2
March 19786·8
April 19788·4
May 19788·6
June 19788·9

Department of Employment Gazette, July 1978, Table 132.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer, pursuant to his answer, Official Report, 16th June, column 695 that the normally accepted indication of the current trend of inflation is the use over six months of the retail price index, excluding seasonal fods, why he refuses to make forecasts using this normally accepted indicator.

In order to produce such a forecast it would be necessary to take a view on the course of food prices, including seasonal foods, to arrive at a forecast figure for the total RPI, from which would then be discounted an element in respect of seasonal foods. The likely future course of seasonal food prices is exceptionally difficult to predict and this makes the whole undertaking very uncertain. Whilst therefore current and past figures for this measure are a useful indicator, forecasts of it are not likely to be reliable.