HC Deb 18 December 1947 vol 445 cc1856-7
36. Sir William Darling

asked the President of the Board of Trade why, when an advance in wages is granted by the appropriate wages council or other negotiating body, in certain industries, which are subject to control by the Raw Materials Department of the Board of Trade, only 80 per cent. of this wages increase is allowed in any adjustment in selling price; and if he is satisfied that this is in the best interests of production.

Mr. H. Wilson

I am always anxious to keep prices generally as low as possible. Controlled prices are normally considered on the basis of ascertained costs of production. When an application is made for an increase in such prices immediately after a wage increase, it cannot be assumed that the net increase in costs will be equivalent to the amount of the wage increase. It is, therefore, the normal practice of the Board of Trade not to allow the full amount of the wage increase, but to leave a margin which can be covered in the prices at a later stage when actual costs of production over a reasonable period of working has been ascertained. Ordinarily 20 per cent, is considered to be a fair margin unless special circumstances exist. I am satisfied that this method with the provision for an ex post facto review, is the most likely to serve the best interests of all concerned, including consumers.

Sir W. Darling

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that while he may be satisfied, the members of the Chambers of Commerce which are concerned with the operation of these regulations are by no means satisfied, and think it extremely inadequate that they should have to pay wage advances immediately and have to wait for a year for a review of their figures?

Mr. Wilson

We have to think of the consumers as well as the Chambers of Commerce.