HC Deb 03 August 1943 vol 391 cc2065-7
14. Mr. Walter Edwards

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he has any statement to make regarding the clothing ration for the next period, beginning Ist September?

17. Mr. Mathers

asked the President of the Board of Trade how many clothing coupons will be allowed for the next rationing period; and whether he recognises that many households are now in a worse position than they previously were to stand any reduction owing to reserves of clothing having been worn out?

19. Mrs. Adamson

asked the President of the Board of Trade what the clothing ration will be after 1st September?

23. Mr. Arthur Duckworth

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he has any statement to make on the clothing ration for the next period beginning 1st September?

25. Mr. Douglas

asked the President of, the Board of Trade whether he is aware of the deep anxiety which exists, at the prospect of a cut in clothing coupons, especially among mothers with young children who are now able to get only shoes and clothing of poor quality; and whether he has any statement to make on the matter?

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

We enter next month both on a new rationing period and on the fifth year of the war. As the House knows, labour and materials have had to be increasingly diverted from civilian textile and clothing production to the direct war effort. I have been giving close and continuous attention to the question of what number of clothing coupons could safely be issued during the next rationing period, in order to match the prospective supplies.

I have now decided that, although it would not be safe at this stage to undertake to maintain the present basic ration for as far ahead as 12 months, I should be justified in maintaining it for a period of five months, that is to say, from 1st September next to 1st February, 1944. The basic ration during this five months will, therefore, be 20 coupons—that is, at the same rate as in the current period. I shall make every effort to avoid reducing the ration after 1st February, but future arrangements must depend upon the course of the war and its effects upon available supplies.

I am glad to say that I am able to maintain all the present supplements for children during the next rationing period. Moreover, in order that they may be used for purchases before the children go back to school, the 10 additional coupons in the children's new book will be valid from 15th August.

I can also see my way to maintain the present industrial supplements at the existing levels. I am discussing this matter with the Committee of the Trades Union Congress and the British Employers' Confederation which advises me on this subject, and shall make a further announcement shortly.

All the coupons in the current 1942–43 clothing book will remain valid at least until the end of 1943, and probably longer. If it should be decided to withdraw them at any time during 1944, at least one month's notice will be given. Finally, I would appeal to all who are so fortunately placed that they can abstain from using their coupons, to do so, in the interests both of the war effort and of those whose need of clothing is most urgent.

Mr. Mathers

While realising the importance of trying to prevent coupons being used, does not my right hon. Friend realise that for children going back to school 15th August is too late to give their parents an opportunity properly to provide for clothing? If they need clothing, why should they not be able to use these coupons at an earlier date?

Mr. Dalton

I have been in touch with the President of the Board of Education, and it was after consultation with him that we fixed on the date of 15th August, which I think will be found satisfactory.

Mr. Gallacher

If nudists are supplied with coupons and do not need them, will they be used as a pool for supplying extra clothing for children?

Mr. Dalton

The hon. Member, or anyone, is entitled on the grounds that he suggests, provided he keeps clear of the police, to make me a contribution.

Sir Granville Gibson

Has the right hon. Gentleman been influenced in not reducing the number of coupons by the accumulation of medium and low priced clothing in the hands of retailers and wholesalers?

Mr. Dalton

That is another Question on which I answered the hon. Member last week, and on which there is another Question on the Paper to-day.