§ 73. Mr. GILBERT
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether his attention has been called to the continued shortage of matches in London and the inability of shopkeepers to obtain necessary supplies for their customers; and can he take any steps in order to improve delivery of this article to retail dealers in London?
§ Mr. WARDLE
There is no doubt a shortage of matches in London, as well as in other districts, compared with the supply a year ago, owing to the prohibition of the import. of foreign matches, which amounted to over 50 per cent. of the normal supplies, and the exhaustion of the stocks which existed when the pro- 990 hibition was imposed. Every effort is being made to increase the output, but there are great difficulties, owing to scarcity of labour, difficulty in obtaining new machinery and the raw material;. and, in addition, lately there has been a strike in the match manufactory at Liverpool, which seriously interfered with the supply. The Tobacco and Matches Control Board, through their Administrative Committee of Match Manufacturers, are doing their utmost to ensure an equitable. distribution of the available supplies, which they consider should be sufficient, provided the public will only realise the position and reduce their consumption as far as possible.
§ Mr. GILBERT
Has the lion. Gentleman considered the advisability, in view of the public necessity for these goods, of removing the prohibition for a short time, in order that Swedish matches may be imported?
§ Mr. WARDLE
I am afraid that there would be very great difficulty in complying with that suggestion.