HC Deb 10 October 1944 vol 403 cc1559-60
39. Captain Longhurst

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether, in view of the imminent acute shortage of infants' and children's wear, he will consult with the Minister of Labour with a view to such restoration of skilled labour as will bring the manufacturers' approved labour force at least to the level of October, 1943.

Mr. Dalton

In order to achieve the maximum war effort against the enemy this year, there have been considerable withdrawals of labour from the clothing industry, on which the Ministry of Supply is still making heavy demands both for Service clothing and for suits for demobilised soldiers. As a result, the production of civilian clothing has fallen in recent months, but there is no reason to fear any acute shortage, and I am giving special priority to supplies of infants' and children's wear. My right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour has already arranged to suspend temporarily any further withdrawal of labour from nucleus firms in the industry and I am in touch with him about the need to increase the labour force of the industry to the fullest extent that war production permits.

Captain Longhurst

While thanking my right hon. Friend for that reply may I ask would he not agree that, unless this skilled labour is restored to manufacturers very shortly, they will be completely unable, once existing stocks are exhausted, to renew them, and that there will be a very serious shortage very soon?

Mr. Dalton

No, Sir. I think—indeed, I know—the position is not as bad as has been suggested in some quarters, but I repeat that I am closely in touch with the Minister of Labour, and we are anxious to do everything possible to maintain, and, as soon as possible, to increase, the labour force in the industry.

Mr. Cocks

Will the Minister bear in mind that there is likely to be an increased demand on account of the Secretary of State for War bringing soldiers home?

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