§ 8. Mr. Yates
asked the President of the Board of Trade why the allocation of steel for the manufacture of fire guards to Messrs. Smith Brothers, 64 Clement Street, Birmingham, has been reduced; and if, in view of the statutory obligation to provide fireguards and the existing shortage, he will increase the allocation and obviate the necessity of workers already engaged upon this work being displaced.
§ Mr. J. Edwards
As I have already told my hon. Friend in my letter to him of 11th April, there is, so far as I know now, no shortage of fireguards. In these circumstances we have not been able to continue the specially large allocations of steel which were made to overcome the shortage last year. We are, however, reviewing the allocations of steel to the makers of these articles and I hope that some small improvement may be possible in the next quarter.
§ Mr. Yates
While I appreciate that answer, I did gather it to mean that 14 per cent. of retailers did not stock these fireguards, and in view of the fact that women who are anxious to go out and do a job of work fear to leave their children exposed to danger without this very necessary protection, will the Minister take steps to see that this steel allocation is increased?
§ Mr. Edwards
I should make it plain that the retailers non-stock index for fireguards has fallen from 43 per cent. in 1946 to about 14 per cent. at the present time. We have, in fact, had no complaints for over a year about the shortage of any type of fireguard. If my hon. Friend has any case he would like me to examine perhaps he will let me have particulars.
§ Sir Patrick Hannon
Would the Parliamentary Secretary examine how far this affects employment; and is the Board of Trade keeping in constant touch on this allocation of steel in order to prevent a rise in unemployment in various industries?
§ Mr. Edwards
Certainly, and I have no reason to suppose that there is any risk of unemployment in this trade at the present time.