HC Deb 01 August 1944 vol 402 cc1160-1
45. Sir George Schuster

asked the Prime Minister, with reference to paragraph 30 of the White Paper on Employment Policy, which states that the Board of Trade will be the Department responsible for all questions of industrial policy and will be suitably strengthened for this purpose, whether the President of the Board of Trade has already assumed this responsibility; what steps have been taken for suitably strengthening his Department; and to what extent his responsibility for post-war industrial policy is to be shared for the present with war-time Ministers such as the Minister of Production and the Minister of Supply.

The Deputy Prime Minister (Mr. Attlee)

The Board of Trade have primary responsibility for general questions of industrial policy affecting the post-war period, but many questions have both war and post-war aspects, and under war conditions the Board must share some of their responsibilities with other Departments under the general supervision of the Cabinet. The staff of the Board of Trade has already been strengthened, and further increases will be made as occasion requires and suitable staff becomes available.

Sir G. Schuster

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware there is a very widespread feeling in industrial circles that the Board of Trade, as now organised, is not equal to its present task, and that many opportunities which could be taken without prejudicing the war effort, are being allowed to go by default?

Sir P. Hannon

Will the right hon. Gentleman indicate to the House what position, in the creation of these new functions of the Board of Trade, the Department of Overseas Trade will occupy?

Mr. Attlee

Perhaps the hon. Member will put that Question down.

Mr. Ellis Smith

In view of the great need there will be of export trade after the war and of a great increase in the tech- nique of industry in this country, has not the time arrived when the Government should consider a policy in the light of the Debate which took place upon the White Paper, on the disposal of Government assets; and will my right hon. Friend consider setting up something like there is in the United States, namely, a National Resources Board?

Mr. Attlee

That seems to me a rather different question. I do not think the methods used in the United States can be exactly applied in this country.

Mr. Dc la Bère

Has there not been altogether too much interference already?