HC Deb 08 July 1946 vol 425 cc37-8
87. Mr. Mack

asked the President of the Board of Trade what steps he proposes taking to make good the shortage of perambulators in the Newcastle-under-Lyme and North Staffordshire areas.

94. Mr. Alfred Edwards

asked the President of the Board of Trade what is the position regarding the supply of perambulators; and if he will give figures for the first six months of the present year.

99. Mr. James Callaghan

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will withdraw export licences for all perambulators until the home demand is satisfied.

100. Mr. Medlicott

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he is aware of the shortage of perambulators in East Anglia and many other parts of the country; and if he will prohibit or limit the export of perambulators until a sufficient number have become available to meet the requirements of mothers in Great Britain.

Sir S. Cripps

Whilst the available figures covering the first five months of this year show a steady increase in production (from 35,200 in January to 42,700 in May) the demand for perambulators still exceeds supply. I am much concerned by the hardship that this is causing and every effort is being made to overcome manufacturers' production problems, including the supply of components. I am aware that there is a shortage of perambulators in most parts of the country, but I have no evidence that retailers in Newcastle-under-Lyrne, North Staffordshire, and East Anglia are not getting their fair share of available supplies. Of the 209,863 perambulators produced during the first five months of this year, 188,432 were supplied for the home market. A limit of 4,500, representing about 10 per cent. of total production, has been placed upon the number of perambulators which may be manufactured for export. I consider it desirable that this small flow of exports should continue.

Mr. Mack

Knowing how anxious the President of the Board of Trade is to stimulate the production of babies in this country, which normally follows a natural time-table, will he also stimulate his Department to turn out perambulators to meet this urgent need; and is he not aware that in Newcastle-under-Lyme and district a "fair share" in allocation has turned out to be only a spare share?

Sir S. Cripps

There are certain problems, especially in regard to components, wheels and so on, which make it very difficult to increase the perambulator production any more rapidly than it is being increased at present.

Mr. Nicholson

Has the increase gone up over the corresponding period of last year, and, if so, by how much?

Sir S. Cripps

Very much indeed, but I could not give the figure.

Mr. Nicholson

Perhaps the right hon. and learned Gentleman is not aware that, while he was away, figures were given showing that the production in the earlier months of this year were lower than was the case last year?

Mr. Callaghan

Will the Minister reconsider the decision to allocate 4,000 perambulators for export? Prams are something mothers cannot do without.

Sir S. Cripps

The export market is something the country cannot do without, too.