asked the Minister for Industry and Commerce whether, in view of the continued rise in prices and the hardship which a rising price-level inflicts on people whose money wages are stabilised compulsorily, he will say if the Government are prepared to revoke Emergency Powers (No. 83) Order so that workers may lawfully endeavour to seek such increases in their wages as will in part at least compensate them for the increased prices they are obliged to pay for the goods they buy.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Emergency Powers Order (No. 83).
The answer to the Deputy's question is in the negative. It is my opinion that the revocation of this order would accelerate the rise in prices and would, therefore, result in a considerable worsening of the position of the great majority of workers.
In view of the fact that the Minister is every day authorising increases in the prices of commodities, will he say on what grounds he purports to fix wages at the level in operation in May, 1941, and does he not consider that workers are entitled to some compensation for increases in prices authorised by his Department?
That is a matter on which I and other members of the Government have expressed our opinions in public on a number of occasions. I do not think that it is a matter which lends itself to discussion by way of reply to supplementary questions.
Does the Minister question the assertion that the effect of rising prices is to force down wages and to debase the standard of living of the workers, and will he not reconsider the matter with a view to ensuring that some compensation will be made to the workers for the increase in prices authorised by order of himself or his Department?
After the last war, there were countries in Europe where the workers got paid their wages in a sackful of bank notes and the whole sackful would not buy a decent meal. The same thing might arise here if the Government did not keep the matter under control, and we intend to keep it under control.
The workers are getting a sackful of nonsense from you.