HC Deb 22 January 1941 vol 368 cc165-7
40. Lieut.-Colonel Boles

asked the President of the Board of Trade what principle or specific instruction governs the release to retailers demanding stocks of household utensils such as knives, forks, kettles, etc., held by wholesalers?

The President of the Board of Trade (Mr. Lyttelton)

Wholesalers are permitted by the Limitation of Supplies (Miscellaneous) (No. 5) Order, 1940, to supply retailers as a whole with controlled articles to a specified percentage by value of the total supplies made to them in the standard period, 1st December, 1939, to 31st May, 1940. For cutlery and hollowware the percentage is 25. There is no restriction placed by the Order on the supplies to individual retailers.

Mr. Charles Williams

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the standard period 1939 does not take into account the enormous increase of population in certain reception areas, and will he endeavour to adjust the figure so that the reception areas are no longer starved for materials?

Mr. Lyttelton

We are in continuous touch with the wholesalers on this point and are supplied with statistics to ensure that the larger supplies are received in the reception areas and that the evacuation areas get smaller supplies.

Mr. Lipson

How is that possible if 1939 is taken as the basis when we have to deal with the increased population of 1941?

Mr. Lyttelton

It is not so much a question of increase in the population in 1941 as the change in the location of the population.

Lieut.-Colonel Boles

Is my right hon. Friend aware that owing to the centralisation of supplies a large number of stocks have been destroyed by enemy action?

41. Mr. Graham White

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is satisfied that the present administration of the Limitation of Supplies Act is not leading to undue concentration of reserved goods in warehouses in vulnerable areas?

Mr. Lyttelton

I would refer the hon. Member to the reply which I gave yesterday to the hon. and gallant Member for Bolton (Sir E. Cadogan).

42. Mr. Lipson

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that the Limitation of Supplies Order, as at present administered, is causing very great hardship to manufacturers, retailers and their employés, and the consuming public; and will he arrange discussions with the interests concerned with a view to finding some means of alleviating existing grievances?

Mr. Lyttelton

The application of these Orders is continually under discussion with the trading interests concerned, and I am always ready to consider proposals made by those interests. Limitation of civilian home trade to the extent that is required to secure a full munitions output must mean sacrifices in the national interest.

Mr. Lipson

Will my right hon. Friend also take into account in this connection the increase in population in certain towns?

Mr. Shinwell

Does the right hon. Gentleman appreciate that if a trader is bombed out of business he may make a claim for compensation which may be met subsequently, but that if he is thrown out of business as a result of a limitation of supplies, there is no compensation and no redress for him?

Mr. Lyttelton

The policy of paying compensation for loss of opportunity is one which we could not consider.

Mr. Levy

Does my right hon. Friend realise that the limitation of supplies has the effect of putting people out of work before the Ministry of Labour has time to absorb them and does he not think that some relaxation or modification ought to be made so as to allow time for people to get into employment instead of their being put upon the dole?

Mr. Shinwell

If there is a further limitation of supplies, as there is bound to be before the war comes to an end, what is to be done for the traders thrown out of business? Are they to be absorbed immediately into some other occupation? If not, surely some compensation must be made to them.

Mr. Lyttelton

The demand for labour will, in my opinion, be so great that nearly everybody will be absorbed, and the question of compensation will not then arise.

43. Mr. Lipson

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that sports outfitters whose businesses have already been seriously affected by the Limitation of Supplies Order resent the monopoly for providing the sports requirements of the services given to the Navy, Army, and Air Force Institutes; and can he now announce the steps he is taking to ensure that private traders are permitted to compete with the Navy, Army, and Air Force Institutes for service business on equal terms.

Mr. Lyttelton

I would refer the hon. Member to the reply which I gave yesterday to the hon. and gallant Member for Chelmsford (Lieut.-Colonel acnamara).