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Unit Labour Costs

Volume 979: debated on Tuesday 19 February 1980

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asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) whether he will publish in the Official Report a table showing United Kingdom relative normal unit labour costs and relative unit labour costs each year since 1970 and each quarter since 1976 and the ratio between the two series; if he will explain what the reasons are for the difference; and why they have diverged from relative export prices;(2) whether he will publish in the

Official Report a table comparing the latest figure for relative normal unit labour costs in Japan with that of the United Kingdom as a percentage increase on 1970; how this compares with the estimated movement of manufactures export prices over the same period; and what is the explanation for the difference.

The available relevant information on both of these questions is published by the International Monetary Fund in "International Financial Statistics", a copy of which is available in the House of Commons Library. The difference between the index of relative unit labour costs arid the normalised index reflects variations in capacity utilisation in the United Kingdom and competing countries. Export prices are affected not only by unit labour costs but by material input costs and profit margins, and the relative export prices index reflects changes in all these factors relative to those for competing countries.