HC Deb 06 April 1950 vol 473 cc1339-40
13. Mr. Lionel Heald

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that trade is being hampered and supplies of clothing to the public held up by the refusal of his department to make a general order increasing the ceiling prices of utility wool cloth garments, notwithstanding the effect of devaluation in raising the price of imported wool by 33⅓ per cent. or more; by what authority, and for what purpose, he requires each individual manufacturer to apply for a special making-up order; and by what authority, and for what purpose, he requires the ceiling prices fixed by such special making-up orders to be treated as confidential and not to be divulged.

Mr. H. Wilson

I apologise for the length of this answer, which has to deal with a number of questions. There has been no recent increase in the maximum prices for the various specifications of utility wool cloth, and the question of raising the maximum prices for garments made from such cloths does not therefore arise.

The manufacture of utility garments is controlled by the Utility Mark and Apparel and Textiles (General Provisions) Order, 1947, (S.R. & O. 1947 No. 2642). The Board of Trade have made a series of general Orders, which are published as Statutory Instruments, authorising the manufacture of particular garments from specified utility cloths. These Orders also specify the manufacturers' maximum prices.

If a manufacturer wishes to make up a utility garment from a utility cloth not so specified, or from a non-utility cloth (e.g. an imported wool cloth), he may apply to the Board for special authority which can be given in the form of an Order as provided by the Utility Mark Order. In effect, it is a licence to use the particular cloth to manufacture specified utility garments. Such an Order also provides the manufacturer's maximum price for any garments to which it relates. As such an Order is addressed to a named person it is not published but it is in no way confidential. These individual or special Orders, like the published Statutory Instruments, are made under Defence Regulations 55 and 55AB.

Mr. Heald

Is not the short answer that the object of requiring the prices not to be divulged is to prevent the public from appreciating the effect of devaluation?

Mr. Wilson

No, Sir. Not at all. This has been the position long before and since devaluation. So far as the general orders are concerned, the public are in a position to know what the prices are.

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