HC Deb 06 April 1948 vol 449 cc25-6
51. Mr. Sidney Marshall

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he will now reduce the coupon points value for all footwear, in view of the greatly increased production and accumulating stocks in retailers shops.

Mr. Belcher

Although there has recently been a welcome improvement in production and stocks, there is no guarantee that the present levels can be maintained, since the footwear industry depends to a very considerable degree on raw materials imported from hard currency areas. A reduction in the coupon rates could not, therefore, be justified at present.

Mr. Marshall

Can the Parliamentary Secretary give further consideration to it, especially in view of the statement that supplies are very ample, made in the House this afternoon by the hon. Member for Howdenshire (Mr. Odey), who is himself a large producer of leather in this country, and the statement made by the President of the Board of Trade to the Leicester boot and shoe industry, that stocks are piling up in the retailers' shops because there are not enough coupons to buy them?

Mr. Belcher

As I have already indicated, if supplies can be maintained at their present level we shall be prepared to look into the coupon question; but at present we have no guarantee that we shall be able to maintain supplies of raw materials at their present level.

Mr. Drayson

Can we take it from the original answer that, where the Government find a surplus they immediately set about organising a scarcity?

Mr. Belcher


Mr. Osborne

Is not the Parliamentary Secretary aware that there is a danger of considerable unemployment among the lower grades in the boot and shoe manufacturing industry, because of the coupon position; and will he look into the question from that angle?

Mr. Belcher

It has been mentioned to me that there is the possibility of unemployment in the boot and shoe manufacturing industry. I can assure hon. Members that these things are kept under constant review, and that it is our anxious desire not to produce a scarcity, but to make the best use of the available material.