11. Mr. Platte-Mills
asked the President of the Board of Trade if he is aware that men's shoes are now being made with a six iron shoulder outer sole, a board insole and heels of compressed board with only one leather layer; that footwear will not normally last for a reasonable period unless it is provided with an eight iron bend outer sole, a belly inner sole and an all-leather heel; and if he will safeguard the interests of the buying public by prescribing minimum specifications in respect of the manufacture of utility footwear.
§ The President of the Board of Trade (Mr. Harold Wilson)
Detailed specifications of utility footwear have been departed from so as to allow for greater flexibility in manufacture and to give the public a wider choice of styles. The Board of Trade keeps a careful watch on the quality of the output. Manufacturers generally are co-operating and producing satisfactory footwear. I have no knowledge of shoes being made with shoulder soles and cardboard insoles, but if the hon. Member would let me have details of the specific cases he has in mind I would have them investigated.
In the absence of any minimum specification of quality for utility footwear, is not the President of the Board of Trade apprehensive that, owing to the rising cost of living and the demand for cheaper footwear, some people may be tempted to put this sort of shoddy on the market?
§ Mr. Wilson
I have not seen any evidence of the kind of shoddy to which the hon. Gentleman has referred, but if he will let me have particulars I will investigate the matter.
§ Brigadier Head
Is it not due to the footwear that the iron entered into the "inner sole" of the right hon. Gentleman.
§ Mr. Wilson
The word "iron" in this connection, as I am sure the hon. and gallant Gentleman realises, is a measurement of thickness, being only l/48th of an inch.