HC Deb 18 June 1941 vol 372 cc627-30
42. Mr. Pearson

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that it is a wide practice for school authorities to require pupils to have a specified clothes outfit and, in view of this necessitating the deposit of at least 50 coupons, will he consider making a concession to the extent of not requiring coupons for a a child's first clothes outfit upon passing from a primary to a secondary or senior school?

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade (Captain Waterhouse)

Children have the same number of coupons as grown-ups, but their clothing is rated at fewer coupons because they grow out of their clothes and are harder on them. Children, whether at school or not, who are too big to wear such garments will be able to get extra coupons later. The pressure on supplies is such that my right hon. Friend would not be justified in still further increasing the ration to meet cases where school authorities may have prescribed an outfit that cannot be met within this ration.

Mr. Edmund Harvey

Will my hon. and gallant Friend consult with the President of the Board of Education about circularising school authorities with a view to their suspending these outfit lists during the present emergency?

Captain Waterhouse

Certainly I will consider that.

43. Captain Cunningham-Reid

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that the regulation that knitting wool can only be obtained without coupons through the medium of the Women's Voluntary Service will virtually prohibit women knitting comforts for their own friends and relations in the Services, as garments, knitted with wool so obtained, have to be returned to the Women's Voluntary Service for distribution; and will he consider relaxing this regulation to avoid having to surrender one coupon for every two ounces of wool purchased in the ordinary way, as is the regulation at present?

Captain Waterhouse

This matter is under consideration.

Mr. Mander

Can the hon. and gallant Gentleman say how soon a decision will be reached, as this matter affects a large number of people throughout the country associated with churches and other organisations, who desire to continue the present practice of sending these things straight to their own friends?

Captain Waterhouse

I can assure the hon. Member that the matter is treated as one of urgency, but he will realise that there is a multiplicity of details to be gone through.

Captain Cunningham-Reid

Is my hon. and gallant Friend aware that he will have to surrender 11 coupons in the event of his having an aunt in the W.A.A.F.s and wanting to knit a sweater for her?

70. Major Milner

asked the President of the Board of Trade why, though recommending inquirers as to clothes rationing to ask for information from chambers of commerce, no advance particulars were given to such chambers in order to enable replies to be given?

Captain Waterhouse

As the hon. and gallant Gentleman will appreciate, it was essential for the utmost secrecy to be observed in regard to the consumer rationing scheme before it came into force on 1st June. For that reason the Board of Trade did not issue advance particulars. In order to enable chambers of commerce to deal with general inquiries, explanatory leaflets were despatched to them on 31st May, and arrangements were made for representatives of the Board of Trade to address numerous meetings called by such organisations in the first week of the scheme.

Major Milner

Is the hon. and gallant Gentleman not aware that the particulars arrived two days late and that great annoyance and inconvenience were caused to traders? Is there any reason why chambers of commerce should not have been given the information along with the newspapers?

Captain Waterhouse

On the other hand, there is every reason why they should. If the hon. and gallant Gentleman will let me have information of late arrival in any particular case, I shall be glad to have the particulars.

Mr. Evelyn Walkden

Is the hon. and gallant Gentlemen aware that most of the representatives of the Board of Trade were unable to understand the scheme themselves and were certainly not in a position to explain some of the problems?

Captain Waterhouse

Secrecy had to be maintained. Virtually no one was taken into our confidence until the last few days. These gentlemen had a very short and cursory training, and I believe the general opinion of the country is that they did excellently.

68. Mr. Sorensen

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware of difficulties that have arisen respecting clothing coupons for patients in mental hospitals and other public institutions; whether he will determine the number of coupons that can be utilised by patients for private purchases, both for those who were patients before the beginning of rationing, and those voluntary or other patients who have entered these hospitals since then; and whether coupons are to be surrendered for uniform supplied to male and female nurses?

Captain Waterhouse

Temporary inmates of hospitals and institutions are already in a position to purchase the normal ration, since they possess a Food Ration Book. The normal supply of clothing coupons will be issued to permanent inmates as soon as this can be arranged. In the meantime, hospitals of all kinds may, as a provisional arrangement, obtain their essential requirements by giving a formal receipt to the supplier. This latter provision enables hospitals to obtain supplies both for patients and for nurses. Similar facilities are available to institutions under local authorities.

Mr. Sorensen

Does the Minister realise that that does not quite cover my point? Will he consider this matter afresh, and also the possibility of circularising various hospitals in the country giving directions to them in a matter which has become very complicated?

Captain Waterhouse

Circulars will shortly be issued to hospitals dealing with their position under this rationing scheme.