HC Deb 08 July 1948 vol 453 cc563-4
33. Mr. Ward

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that the shortage of industrial overalls is having an adverse effect upon production in many factories; and whether he will take immediate steps to give overall manufacturers the increased supplies of utility cotton drills, without which they can neither speed up their deliveries nor reduce their costs.

The President of the Board of Trade (Mr. Harold Wilson)

I would refer the hon. Member to the answer given to my hon. Friend the Member for Taunton (Mr. Collins) on 29th June.

Mr. Ward

Without knowing what that answer was, may I ask whether the Minister is aware that one company in Worcestershire which is making overalls is down to 55 per cent. of its capacity and is likely to go down to 40 per cent. in the near future; and that it has 45,000 garments on order and can deliver only in 16 weeks instead of two? Does he realise how serious is this situation?

Mr. Wilson

I will send the hon. Member a copy of the answer referred to. I am well aware of the shortage of industrial overalls. It is due to the shortage of drill cloth which is mostly being exported to Canada.

Mr. William Shepherd

As the provision of overalls is a requirement under the Factory Acts, what is the right hon. Gentleman doing to ensure that these Acts are being complied with?

Mr. Wilson

I am not aware that the shortage is sufficiently great to involve any infringement of the Factory Acts.

Mr. Collins

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the main contributory factor, namely the shortage of material, arises out of a defect in the controls which permit finer cloths to be sold completely without control, thereby diminishing the supply of heavier industrial cloth? Will he look into this aspect of the matter?

Mr. Wilson

No, Sir, that is not the explanation of this particular shortage. We are having a lot of discussions with the cotton industry at the present time about the working of the controls and the reaction on the production of different kinds of cloth.