HC Deb 07 December 1950 vol 482 cc508-9
13. Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

asked the President of the Board of Trade why, by Statutory Instruments 1704 and 1707, 1950, he reduced the margin allowed to retailers on the sale of carpets; and whether he is satisfied that such margins will be adequate to permit the maintenance of proper wage levels for the employees of carpet retailers.

18. Sir Wavell Wakefield

asked the President of the Board of Trade why, in view of greatly increased costs, the price margins on carpets have been reduced for retailers by Statutory Instruments 1704 and 1707, 1950.

Mr. H. Wilson

I have reduced the percentage margin allowed on retail sales of carpets because it is in the public interest that the retail prices should not rise by more than is necessary to give the traders a fair return. An increase in manufacturers' prices, due to increased raw material costs, is no reason for retailers to have increased cash margins. As regards the wages of the retailers' employees, I would refer the hon. Member to the answer given on 5th December to the hon. Member for Croydon, East (Sir H. Williams).

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

Can the right hon. Gentleman say how he satisfied himself, in this intricate matter, that he had come to the right decision? In particular, will he say whether he consulted the trade associations concerned?

Mr. Wilson

Yes, Sir. We were in consultation with the trades concerned. As in all these matters of price control, we get from them their full figures on costings to satisfy ourselves that there is a reasonable return, and no more than a reasonable return.

Squadron Leader Burden

Is it not a fact that these retailers are not allowed any increase in cash margins if prices rise, and that Purchase Tax has been charged on the increased cost of carpets?

Mr. Erroll

Will the Minister say how retailers are to finance their stocks at the new higher prices if they are not to have the money?

Mr. Wilson

This is a question of the cash margins on actual sales. A fair number of goods the retailers are now selling are increasing their turnover, and that in itself increases the amount of cash.