HC Deb 15 July 1943 vol 391 cc339-40
10. Mr. Rhys Davies

asked the Minister of Labour what further categories of workers in the distributive trades it is proposed to call up; whether the Ministry of Food, the employers and trade unions concerned are consulted in this connection; and, if so, whether they have satisfied him that the efficient distribution of foodstuffs will not suffer as a consequence of still further denuding shops of skilled staffs?

Mr. Bevin

In agreement with my Noble Friend the Minister of Food, and after consultation with the employers' organisations and trade unions concerned, a limited number of workers is being withdrawn from certain sections of the food distributive trades. In some sections, as for example groceries and provisions, withdrawals are being made on a quota system: in others, such as retail fish, by age classes. There is provision in both cases for the retention of key workers. I am satisfied that these arrangements will not endanger the efficient distribution of essential foodstuffs.

Mr. Davies

Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind the complaint of women, especially those of 50 or 60 years of age, that they have to stand for a long time in shops waiting to be served, and that shopping has become very arduous because there are not enough skilled people behind the counters?

Mr. Bevin

I have to bear such a vast number of problems in mind with the man-power situation as it is at the moment, and the question of determining priorities is a very difficult one. I have had consultations with the food distributive trades, and I think that the way they have helped to solve this problem merits the gratitude of the country.

Mr. Evelyn Walkden

Will the right hon. Gentleman, when judging the efficiency of the particular shops that have to be dealt with, also judge the efficiency and ability of those who are to adjudicate on whether the shops can be efficient or not?

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