§ Mr. Leather
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will publish the information on which he based his estimate that dividends in the first quarter of 1961 rose by 23 per cent.
§ Mr. Barber
The figure of 23 per cent. for the increase in dividends for the first quarter of the year compared with a year ago given by the President of the Board of Trade on 18th July was prepared in the Treasury on the basis of company reports analysed by theFinancial Times. Owing to a mistake in calculation, which I very much regret, this figure was wrong; the true figure is l5½ per cent. I should make it clear that it is an estimate of the increase in gross dividends reported by the group of companies classified by the Financial Times as industrial companies.
My right hon. and learned Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in his statement of 25th July, gave a comparison on a more comprehensive basis and covering a longer period. This showed an increase of 20 per cent. between 1959–60 and 1960–61. The correction of the figure for the first quarter does not, of course, in any way affect the Government's view, which the Chancellor stated, that in present circumstances a further general increase in dividends in the coming year could not be justified.