ON THIS DAY 1948: Fresh price controls to cut profits

Archive front page: EDP 13 Feb 1948. Photo: Library

Archive front page: EDP 13 Feb 1948. Photo: Library - Credit: Archant

As part of a new daily online series we look back on what was making the news on this day in Norfolk. Today, we look at the Eastern Daily Press front page of February 13, 1948.

A Government scheme to control the prices of less essential goods, as a means of regulating profits, was announced in the House of Commons yesterday by Sir Stafford Cripps, Chancellor of the Exchequer, during a debate on the White paper on wages.

Expect for food and clothing, the prices of virtually every commodity not already controlled will be affected by the Board of Trade Orders, to be issued at the end of the month, and a 'celing' will be fixed at the level obtaining during December and January. Distributors' margins will be prescribed at the same time for these goods, allowing as far as possible returns at the present rates.

The new plan seeks to prevent any 'provocative' rise in profits and will tend to steady the cost-of-living index. The Government hopes that these factors will curb any new wage demands.

Mr Harold Wilson, President of the Board of Trade, also proposes that any increase in labour costs attributable to wage increases granted after the date of the White Paper should not, expect under agreement with the Board of Trade, be taken into account for fixing prices under the plus-cost scheme.

Sir Strafford pointed out in his speech that the FBI and other organisations, representing manufactures and distributors, may evolve a scheme for price and profit decreases that will improve on this one. They have been invited to put forward suggestions.

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'No cause for despair' - Eden

Moving the Opposition amendment Mr A Eden (C Warwick and Leamington) said there was no cause for despair over Britain's position, but only if our business was handled in the right way.

The Opposition amendment was: 'That this House views with grave concern the present sate of the nation and would welcome any well-chosen measures designed to check inflation and to restore the economic prosperity of the country.'

Plea for Incentive

Mr Eden urged- the Government to take no action which would discourage the ploughing back of profits into industry in the last resort the only way we could get out of this position was increased output. It was, therefore essential that the Government's very proper desire to combat inflation did not result in their taking any action which might kill initiative.

The Government ought to try to increase incentive, perhaps by some increase in the earned income allowance under P.A.Y.E.

'There is no cause whatever for despair with our Empire and Commonwealth resources and our key position in Western Europe, could anyone say there is no hope for the future? Of course is, but only if we handle our business in the right way'.

Replaying for the Government, Sir Stafford Cripps said there were three ways in which the inflationary tendency could be arrested. The first was by voluntary common sense and self restraint of manufactures, distributors and workers. The second was by direct Governmental action, and the third was a combination of the two.

The Government could not disregard the accumulation and distribution of larger profits at a time when all sections of the community were being asked to exercise restraint 25 to their personal incomes.

After referring to factors which stimulated the inflationary tendency Sir Stafford said that the Government did not propose to regulate wages, despite the grave danger to our economy from rises in personal incomes.