HC Deb 17 June 1941 vol 372 cc463-8
14. Sir William Davison

asked the President of the Board of Trade, whether he will consider the provision of extra clothing coupons for women in the London Auxiliary Ambulance Service who are not provided with uniform by the Government and have to provide suitable clothing for wearing while on duty from their ordinary supply of clothing coupons?

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

I understand that a uniform coat provided coupon-free through the Government is already available for members of the London Auxiliary Ambulance Service and improved uniforms will be provided, as already announced by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Home Security. The arrangements to be made regarding coupons for uniform clothing concern many services and are under consideration. An announcement will be made as soon as possible.

Sir W. Davison

Am I to understand that it will not be necessary for women in this Service to wear their own clothing when doing the very dirty work they have to do at night in garages?

Mr. Lyttelton

I cannot give a specific answer until I know what the uniform provided by the Government will be.

Mr. de Rothschild

When the right hon. Gentleman publishes these details, will he not forget the evacuated children under the care of foster-mothers throughput the country?

15. Mr. Hannah

asked the President of the Board of Trade the position in the rationing of clothes about expectant mothers securing cloth and wool for making garments for their babies?

17. Dr. Edith Summerskill

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he will issue extra coupons to expectant mothers for the purpose of purchasing wool and material for making the layette?

18. Mrs. Adamson

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether on receipt of a note from a doctor or an infant welfare centre, he will grant extra coupons to the expectant mother, so that she can get the necessary wool to knit the baby outfit, etc.?

Mr. Lyttelton

I have agreed in principle to make a concession to enable ex- pectant mothers to obtain additional supplies of coupons. The details are being worked out, but there are great difficulties of administration, and I am afraid that it will not be possible to make an immediate announcement.

Mrs. Adamson

Will the Minister make the announcement as soon as possible, in order to save expectant mothers from worry and suffering?

Mr. Lyttelton

The announcement will be made as soon as I can get the details worked out.

19. Mr. Silkin

asked the President of the Board of Trade what arrangements he has made for the supply of rationed clothing to persons whose clothing has been destroyed by enemy action prior to the introduction of rationing but who had not actually clothing on order at that time.

Mr. Lyttelton

The arrangements whereby the Board of Customs and Excise and the Assistance Board may issue coupons to persons whose clothing has been destroyed cover the cases mentioned by the hon. Member.

Sir Herbert Williams

Will people whose clothing has been destroyed receive payments under the chattels scheme, so as to be In a position to buy the clothes authorised by these coupons?

Mr. Lyttelton

Where they are insured, they are entitled to have their claims met.

Sir H. Williams

Is my right hon. Friend aware of a case the other day in which payment was refused because it was not considered desirable for a bombed person to buy any more clothes?

Mr. Lyttelton

If my hon. Friend will send me particulars, I will look into the case.

20. Mr. Silkin

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he will give consideration to the granting of a limited number of coupons for rationed clothing to men and women in the Forces who desire to wear civilian clothing when on leave.

29 and 30. Captain Duncan

asked the President of the Board of Trade (1) whether he has now issued instructions regarding the issuing of clothing coupons to officers and other ranks serving in the Army, to personnel of the Auxiliary Territorial Service and to members of the Auxiliary Services; and how many coupons each of the above categories will receive yearly.

(2), how many clothing coupons will be issued yearly to newly-commissioned officers and to officers and men on discharge, respectively, in view of the special needs of these two categories of persons.

Mr. Lyttelton

The question of the arrangements for the issue of clothing coupons to officers, cadets and other ranks of the Services, including the A.T.S., the W.R.N.S. and the W.A.A.F., is receiving detailed consideration in conjunction with the Service Departments. In the meantime, as a temporary measure, officers may obtain supplies of rationed goods by signing a statement on the back of the trader's bill that the articles mentioned represent their essential personal requirements, and other ranks can get supplies by producing a statement signed by their commanding officer and testifying that the goods represent essential personal requirements of types not supplied to them by the authorities. Officers and other ranks recently discharged or temporarily released from the Services should apply by post to the nearest collector of Customs and Excise for extra coupons for any essential articles of civilian clothing they may require. Officers and men on leave will normally be able to use the civilian clothing which they already possess, and I regret that the supply position would not permit the purchase of new civilian clothing.

Major Milner

Will it be permissible for the adjutant to decide, as is usual, on behalf of the commanding officer?

21. Mr. Graham White

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether his attention has been drawn to the position of suppliers of clothing in certain areas, who are at present meeting a concentrated demand which would normally have been met by stores no longer in business; and whether he will consider increasing the basic rations to such suppliers so that coupons presented may be met?

Mr. Lyttelton

The problem stated by the hon. Member is mainly one of obtaining a larger distribution of goods to the smaller and medium sized shops, and special arrangements have been made to encourage wholesalers and manufacturers to divert supplies to these shops from the larger concerns which are in general well stocked. These initial supplies will not require the surrender of coupons by the retailer.

Mr. White

Does the right hon. Gentleman appreciate that this Question relates to areas where there has been considerable destruction? Will he make further inquiries?

Mr. Lyttelton

Certainly; we have made special arrangements in bombed areas. If I am given instances of cases where those arrangements are not working, I shall be glad to know of them, and I will take special measures.

22. Mr. White

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that the adoption of a point rationing system for clothing in Germany resulted in a concentrated demand for the most durable articles and the accumulation of masses of unsaleable articles of less durable and cheaper character; and whether he is taking steps to prevent a similar development in this country?

Mr. Lyttelton

Yes, Sir. The tendency towards more durable articles is not, of course, one to be discouraged. I am considering the problem of articles which may have been rendered unsaleable, in consultation with the clothing and footwear trades.

25. Sir H. Williams

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he will consider the appointment of a committee, jointly representative of employers and workpeople, to advise him as to the need for the issue of supplementary coupons for occupational clothing?

24. Mr. Mort

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that the effect of the Clothes Rationing Order upon men engaged in the steel and tinplate industries will be such that they will not be able to replace their working boots and clothes on the number of coupons allowed; and what steps he is taking to remedy this grievance?

Mr. Lyttelton

I recognise that workers in certain industries may require more clothing and footwear than the annual ration of 66 coupons permits, and discussions are now taking place with representatives of the industries concerned, including the workers.

Mr. Shinwell

Did not the right hon. Gentleman anticipate any of these difficulties when he prepared his scheme, and does not it occur to him that he is making so many exceptions now that there will be precious little left of the scheme itself?

Mr. Lyttelton

I cannot accept that statement for one moment. Some of these arrangements required special investigation which could only be made after the event.

28. Sir Granville Gibson

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that, in connection with the Rationing of Clothes Order, a brochure, entitled "Notes to Traders" was issued; that on page 5, Section 22, retailers are requested to take coupons in parcels containing 500 coupons to the Post Office and exchange them for vouchers; why two firms, each presenting 10,000 coupons to the General Post Office at Leeds, were informed they could not be accepted as they knew nothing about any arrangements for the exchange of coupons for vouchers and had received no instructions to receive them; who has been guilty of this lack of foresight in not making the necessary arrangements; and whether the Post Office have yet been advised to issue vouchers in exchange for coupons?

Mr. Lyttelton

Yes, Sir. I regret that it was not made clear in the "Notice to Traders" that vouchers exchangeable for coupons were not immediately available for issue. A notice was issued in the Press to that effect on 7th June, and traders were asked to defer applications to post offices until 16th June. Vouchers should now be obtainable in exchange for coupons at all the larger post offices.

Sir G. Gibson

Will my right hon. Friend state who is responsible for this lack of foresight?

Mr. Lyttelton

The Board of Trade.

Mr. Gallacher

Are there no penalties to be attached?