HC Deb 06 July 1916 vol 83 cc1669-70

asked the Under-Secretary of State for War, anent the Order prohibiting purchases and sales of this season's wool clip, whether it is to be enforced against small parcels varying from two or three pounds to forty or fifty pounds, such as are sent direct to manufacturers by small farmers, crofters, and shepherds in the county of Roxburgh, the West of Scotland, Lewis, and the Orkney and Shetland Islands to be exchanged at manufacturing charges into cloth, wearing apparel, blankets, yarn, bed-covers, horse-rugs, and other things required by such persons in their domestic life; whether the Director of Army Contracts has received representations from an eminent firm of woollen manufacturers in the Scottish borderland that if the Order is applied to this special business in small, rough, and mixed lots the exchangers will be put to inconvenience and loss6, and the manufacturers, after spending large sums in advertisements and circulars stating terms and prices, may be forced to close their establishments, which are now doing good business in many areas and have done so for' above 100 years; and whether, for the encouragement of thrift and the carrying on of this exchange business, the War Office will receive a representative of the firm and consider proposals whereby the aims of the Department may be attained without dislocating present arrangements?


Representations have already been received from a Scottish firm with reference to small parcels of wool, and inquiry is now being made as to the possibility of allowing such parcels to be bought by manufacturers for the purposes mentioned. In any such arrangement it will, of course, be necessary to secure effective control of prices in order to avoid preferential treatment of farmers in any one district. The Department is quite prepared to consider any proposals for dealing with exceptional cases, such as those to which reference is made.

75. Major WHELER

asked the Under-Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that a certain amount of the 1916 clip of wool was sold, before the Government announcement of the proposed purchase of the 1916 clip, at prices considerably above the prices of the 1914 clip with 30 per cent, added; and whether he will therefore increase the War Office price to a figure nearer to the actual market value of the wool?


I have arranged to receive a representative deputation in regard to the question of price, and I think I had better defer answering questions on the subject till the deputation has been received.


Have the Government the intention of getting wool at certain prices and selling it at a profit?


I will answer that on another question.

76. Major WHELER

asked the Under-Secretary of State for War whether, in the event of the War Office not requiring the full 1916 clip of wool, they will sell the wool at higher prices than the price at which they purchased it from the farmer?


It is not the intention of the Department to dispose of any wool likely to be suitable for military purposes until it is quite satisfied that the wool will not be required for the purposes of the British or Allied Armies. It is impossible to determine definitely the best method of disposing of any surplus that may not be required by the Department until the quantity and nature of such surplus has been ascertained.