HC Deb 24 November 1942 vol 385 cc644-5
19. Mr. Granville

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he will take steps to increase the supply of rubber boots for agricultural workers in shops in small market towns in agricultural areas?

Mr. Dalton

As I informed my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Newbury (Brig.-General Clifton Brown) on Tuesday last, supplies of rubber boots are very limited, as a consequence of the loss to Japan of our principal sources of rubber supply. A fair share of these boots has been allocated to agricultural workers. Supplies are too small to permit of stocks being held in all retail shops, but I have arranged that any particular shop which is without stocks shall be able to obtain the boots on presenting customers' buying permits to suppliers.

Mr. De la Bère

Can the right hon. Gentleman say how it is that Italian prisoners are able to have rubber boots whereas a lot of our own men who are working on the land have not the same facilities; does it seem right that the Italians should have better treatment than those who belong to this nation?

Mr. Dalton

I should like more evidence that that state of affairs is correct.

Mr. Granville

Can the right hon. Gentleman say how it is that you can go into a town and see rubber boots in the windows of shops and that when an agricultural worker goes to a shop in a small market town in Suffolk he is unable to purchase them; and will the right hon. Gentleman try to rectify the matter?

Mr. Dalton

I have already explained the means by which buying permits are issued to agricultural workers so that they can obtain boots.

Mr. Bossom

Will the right hon. Gentleman come to Kent where he will see agricultural workers without rubber boots and Italians walking round in rubber boots?