HC Deb 06 April 1948 vol 449 cc23-4
48. Mr. J. Lewis

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he is aware that the allocation of additional clothing coupons to female workers in the textile industry will have the effect of bringing thousands of girls back to the mills and of attracting new recruits to the industry; and if he will take such steps to apply this principle of favoured terms to the textile industry so as to bring it into line with other industries where it exists in varying forms.

Mr. Belcher

The assumption in the first part of the Question can only be a matter of opinion. I do not know to what favourable terms my hon. Friend refers in the second part of his Question; it is a well established principle of clothes rationing that supplementary coupons should be given only to meet special needs, and I do not think we should be justified in making an exception from this rule.

Mr. Lewis

Will the Parliamentary Secretary bear in mind that in certain areas some miners receive free coal, and that certain railway workers receive privileged tickets; and, having regard to the fact that to reach our target for the expansion of the cotton industry it is necessary to recruit at a very much greater rate than we are doing at the moment, would he reconsider this question, in order to bring girls back to the mills?

Mr. Belcher

It is certainly true that we need to recruit people into the cotton and textile industry at a greater rate, and I have no doubt that giving additional coupons would be an incentive. On the other hand, this is the kind of thing which, if applied to the cotton and textile industry, would precipitate a similar demand for quite a number of other industries, and I do not think it would be wise.

Colonel Dower

Is not the Parliamentary Secretary aware that wholesalers have large stocks of which they cannot dispose?

Mr. Belcher

I am not aware of that.

Mr. House

Would my hon. Friend consider extending this request to the steel and the building industries?

Mr. Sidney Shephard

Is it not a fact that female workers in the textile industry are given the "industrial ten" coupons?

Mr. Belcher

Yes, Sir.