33. Mr. Robertson
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he has considered the serious wastage of labour involved in keeping open butchers', and other retail shops, which have little to sell; and whether he will consider reducing the days of opening to three per week, or, alternatively, compulsorily closing redundant shops, with a view to employing the thousands of men and women, so released, on essential war work?
§ The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Herbert Morrison)
I have consulted my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour, and I do not think that either of these suggestions would provide the best method of obtaining the release of labour from the retail trades. My right hon. Friend has announced his 1400 intention of introducing a system of compulsory registration which will enable any labour that can be released from these trades to be transferred, as it is required, to more essential work.
Is my right hon. Friend aware that the majority of butchers in this country have a buying permit for £40 or less of meat a week and that these able-bodied men are doing one day's work instead of a week's work?
§ Mr. Morrison
My hon. Friend will realise that, as Home Secretary, my interest in the matter is in relation to the hours at which shops can open or close. I hardly think that the shutting-down of shops on certain days of the week would solve the problem he has in mind, which is best dealt with as part of the general problem through the machinery of the Ministry of Labour.
Is my right hon. Friend aware that I put this Question down to the Minister of Labour because the most important part of the Question dealt with wastage, and that, without my consent, it was transferred to my right hon. Friend?
§ Mr. Rhys Davies
If the right hon. Gentleman is considering this problem of part-time opening of butchers' shops, will he bear in mind the trade-union complications which will arise?