HC Deb 08 March 1951 vol 485 cc901-7

4.36 a.m.

Squadron Leader Burden (Gillingham)

I beg to move, That an humble Address be presented to His Majesty, praying that the Order, dated 8th February 1951, entitled the Utility Apparel (Women's Domestic Overalls and Aprons) (Manufacture and Supply) Order, 1951 (S.I., 1951, No. 213), a copy of which was laid before this House on 9th February, be annulled.

Mr. William Ross (Kilmarnock)

The prayers of the wicked will be as nothing.

Squadron Leader Burden

Hon. Members opposite should not now be so restive, because we are coming rapidly to the end of these Prayers. This particular Prayer refers to ladies' overalls. I am sure that hon. Members opposite, many of whom help with the washing up, will be very concerned to ensure that the price of ladies' overalls does not increase too much and to ensure that the quality is maintained. In spite of the vigilance of hon. Members opposite I see that the No. 2 women's overall is described as the "women's Empire slip-on overall." The word "Empire" must have slipped through without being noticed by hon. Members opposite, for the word is anathema to them. Indeed, they might annul the Order so that they can change the description to the "women's Commonwealth slip-on overall."

In view of the price increase that this Order enables the Minister to agree with the trade, I again raise the question of the maintenance of quality. I feel sure that many hon. Members opposite will agree that with price increases there must be an assurance that the quality of the garment will be maintained. If quality is to be decreased—and I hope it is not— it will mean that the cost to the housewife is to be increased considerably over the amount permitted under this Order. I would like an assurance that the Gov- ernment will see that prices shall not be increased under this Order more than the necessary amount, and also that the quality shall be maintained in each category at the same standard as that of a year ago.

I would point out to the Minister that there have been complaints about colour fastness, and instances of a debasing of quality resulting from the fact that colours were not as fast as they had been. There has been more shrinkage, also indicating a debasing of the quality. I ask the Minister if he has received any complaints, of this sort, and, if so, what he has done to deal with them. I am informed that about these new qualities there have also been complaints of considerable shrinkage after the garment has been made up, and that in many instances rubber solution has been used for seaming, instead of stitching, all of which reduces the quality. I would like to be assured by the Minister that the quality of aprons now going on the market will stand up to laundry and dry cleaning as well as those in the same-category a year ago.

I would also ask the Minister to look particularly at the matter of sizes, and to ensure that size standards are maintained. All these points are extremely important if the Minister and his Department are anxious to maintain that high standard of workmanship and high standard of cloth that goes into utility apparel. There has been a marked tendency to anonymity in description, and I would like to ask if it is the Government's intention to continue this policy, which is—perhaps not purposely—misleading to the public.

4.45 a.m.

Mr. Remnant (Wokingham)

I beg to second the Motion.

Perhaps I shall get more agreement in the House this time by putting in some good words for these Statutory Instruments. As a comparatively new Member of the House. I readily admit that I learned a considerable amount from my study of this Instrument and the research which followed. The more I learned, the more unsatisfactory the position seemed. It raised suspicions in my mind.

I support the suggestions put forward by my hon. and gallant Friend in moving this Prayer, but I will not repeat what he said, because my in- formation accorded so closely with his. I would ask the hon. Gentleman, if he is to reply, to clear away my suspicions, if they are wrongly formed, by giving an assurance that the articles being sold under this Statutory Instrument are in no way—in standards, shrinkage and colour—less good than they were before.

4.47 a.m.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade (Mr. Rhodes)

This Order provides for higher garment prices to take account of the increase in cotton cloth prices. It also permits the manufacturer of cotton utility overalls to use four new utility cloths recently added to the utility range. In the Utility Cotton Cloth Order the use of Egyptian yarns in either the warp, or the weft, or both, of utility cloths, instead of American yarns, entitles the cloth producer to charge a higher price for the cloth. The Order under discussion permits an increase of five and ten per cent. respectively in the price of the garments, in consequence of the price increases for these cloths. A manufacturer is allowed to charge an

additional 15 per cent. when selling to a retailer if the manufacturer has a regular selling organisation for supplying the retail trade but only five per cent. if he has not such an organisation. I could not hear much of what the hon. Gentleman had to say, but what little I did hear was out of order.

4.48 a.m.

Mr. Janner (Leicester, North-West)

In view of the very satisfactory reply we have had from the Minister, I think it is important that something should be said, after the terrible farce we have had tonight, to indicate to the country that unless a vote is taken on this Motion the Opposition will be shown not to have been serious in these Prayers and to have been playing a game with a view to deceiving the electorate. If they refrain from voting, the country should know that the Opposition are satisfied with the Minister's answer.

Question put.

The House divided: Ayes, 0, Noes, 182.

Division No 55.] AYES [4.50 a.m
TELLERS FOR THE AYES: Mr. Bing and Mr. Donnelly.
Albu, A. H. Davies, A Edward (Stoke, N) Hall, J. (Gateshead, W.)
Allen, A C. (Bosworth) Davies, Harold (Leek) Hall, Rt. Hn. W. Glenvil (Colne Valley)
Allen, Scholefield (Crewe) de Freitas, Geoffrey Hamilton, W. W.
Awbery, S. S. Deer, G Hargreaves, A.
Balfour, A Delargy, H. J Harrison, J.
Barnes, Rt Hon A. J Diamond, J. Hastings, Dr. Somervills
Bartley, P Dodds, N. N. Hayman, F. H.
Benn, Hon A N Wedgwood Driberg, T. E N Holman, P.
Beswick, F. Dugdale, Rt. Hon. J. (W Bromwich) Holmes, H. E. (Hemsworth)
Blenkinsop, A Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C. Hudson, J. H. (Ealing, N.)
Blyton, W. R Edwards, W. J. (Stepney) Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayr)
Booth, A. Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.) Hynd, H. (Accrington)
Bottomley, A. G. Evans, S. N. (Wednesbury) Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)
Bowles, F. G. (Nuneaton) Ewart, R. Janner, B.
Brockway, A. Fenner Fernyhough, E. Jeger, Dr. S. W (St Pancras. S)
Brook, D (Halifax) Field. Capt. W J Jenkins, R. H.
Broughton, Dr. A. D. D Finch, H. J. Johnson, James (Rugby)
Brown, T. J. (Ince) Fletcher, E. G M. (Islington E) Jones, D. T. (Hartlepool)
Butler, H W. (Hackney, S) Fool. M. M. Jones, Frederick Elwyn (West Ham, S)
Callaghan, James Freeman, J. (Watford) Jones, Jack (Rotherham)
Champion, A J Ganley, Mrs. C. S Keenan, W.
Cocks, F. S. Gibson, C. W Key, Rt. Hon. C. W.
Coldrick, W. Gilzean, A Kinghorn, Sqn. Ldr. E
Collick, P. Gooch, E G Lee, F. (Newton)
Collindridge, F. Greenwood, A. W. J (Rossendale) Lever, L M (Ardwick)
Cooper, G. (Middlesbrough, W.) Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Arthur (Wakefield) Lewis, A. W. J. (West Ham, N.)
Cooper, J. (Deptford) Grenfell, D. R. Lewis, J. (Bolton, W.)
Corbet, Mrs. F. K (Peckham) Grey, C. F. Lindgren, G S
Cove, W. G. Griffiths, D. (Rother Valley) Lipton, Lt.-Col. M.
Craddock, George (Bradford, S.) Griffiths, Rt. Hon. J. (Llanelly) Logan, D. G.
Crawley, A. Griffiths, W. D. (Exchange) Longden, F. (Small Heath)
Crosland, C. A. R. Grimond, J. MacColl, J. E.
Crossman, R. H. S Haire, John E. (Wycombe) MoGhee, H. G.
Darling, G. (Hillsboro') Hale, J. (Rochdale) Mack, J. D.
McKay, J. (Wallsend) Pearson, A. Thomas, George (Cardiff)
McLeavy, F. Peart, T. F. Thomas, I. R. (Rhondda, W)
MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling) Poole, Cecil Thomas, I. O (Wrekin)
Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg) Popplewell, E. Tomney, F.
Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.) Porter, G. Turner-Samuels, M.
Mellish, R. J Price, M. Philips (Gloucesteuhire, w) Vernon, Maj. W. F
Messer, F. Proctor, W. T Viant, S. P.
Mikardo, Ian Rees, Mrs. D. Wells, P. L. (Faversham)
Mitchison, G. R. Reid, T. (Swindon) Wells, W. T. (Walsall)
Moeran, E. W. Rhodes, H. Wheatley, Rt. Hon. John (Edinb'gh, E)
Monslow, W. Robens, A. White, H. (Derbyshire, N.E)
Moody, A. S. Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire) Wigg, George
Morley,[...] S. Rogers, G. H. R. (Kensington, N.) Wilcock, Group Capt. C. A. B
Morris, P. (Swansea, W.) Ross, William (Kilmarnock) Wilkins, W. A.
Moyle, A. Royle, C Willey, F. T. (Sunderland)
Mulley, F. W Shackleton, E. A. A. Willey, O. G- (Cleveland)
Nally, W. Silverman, J. (Erdingion) Williams, Rev. Llywelyn (Abertillery)
Neal, H. Simmons, C J. Williams, Ronald (Wigan)
Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P. J Slater, J. Williams, W. T. (Hammersmith, S.)
O'Brien, T, Snow, J. W Winterbottom, I. (Nottingham, C.)
Oldfield, W H Sorensen, R. W. Winterbottom, R. E. (Brighlside)
Orbach, M. Soskice, Rt. Hon Sir F. Wise, Major I. J
Padley, W. E. Sparks, J. A. Wyatt, W. L.
Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury) Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E) Younger, Hon. Kenneth
Pannell, T. C. Sylvester, G. O.
Pargiter, G A. Taylor, H. S. (Mansfield) TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Parker, J. Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth) Mr. Bowden and
Paton, J Thomas, D. E. (Aberdare) Mr. Kenneth Robinson.
Mr. Snow (Lichfield and Tamworth)

On a point of order. In view of the characteristic lack of guts by the Opposition— —

Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Major Milner)

Order! I cannot allow the hon. Member or any other hon. Member to use that sort of language in this House.

Hon. Members


Mr. Snow

Mr. Deputy-Speaker, did you instruct me to withdraw?

Mr. Anthony Greenwood (Rossendale)

On a point of order. For the purposes of the record, may I draw your attention, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, to the fact that when a Division was taken there were fewer than 50 members of the Opposition here present?

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

The hon. Gentleman's question was not a point of order, and I must ask hon. Members using the phrase to confine themselves to what are strictly points of order.

Mr. James Stuart (Moray and Nairn)

I do not wish to raise a point of order which is not a point of order. I will not make any reference to the unattractive remarks which have been voiced from the other side of the House; but might I put it to you—[Interruption.] May I be allowed to put to you, Mr. Deputy-Speaker without interruption from the other side——

Mr. Wedgwood Benn (Bristol, South-East)

On a point of order.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

Order! As I understand it, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Moray and Nairn (Mr. J. Stuart) is already speaking to a point of order.

Hon. Members


Mr. Stuart

If it would place me in order, I will submit this as a point of order. I hope I shall not be interrupted. [Interruption.]"I do not wish to submit it as a point of order, but I cannot get on. In view of the fact that the last Division seems to have been a minor revolt on the part of the Government's supporters, would you, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, exercise your perfectly proper right in future in asking those Members who are opposing the Government to stand up in their places, and save the time of the House.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

That is a matter, of course, about which the Chair must exercise its own discretion. Mr. Crouch. [Interruption.]The hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan), must restrain himself, otherwise I shall have to take some action in regard to him.

Mr. O'Brien (Nottingham, North-West) rose

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

Does the hon. Member for Nottingham, North-West (Mr. O'Brien), wish to raise a point of order?

Mr. O'Brien


Mr. Deputy-Speaker

Mr. O'Brien.

Mr. O'Brien

Further to the last point of order, having regard to the result of the last Division and the manner of its taking, and having regard to the fact that the Division was caused in the first instance by the Opposition tabling a Motion, is not their action in refraining from supporting their own Motion, contempt of this House?

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

It is not infrequently the practice to move a Motion and not to vote on it.

Several Hon. Members rose——

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

I cannot have these repeated points of order, many of which are not points of order at all. I hope hon. Members will refrain from putting further points of order—[HON. MEMBERS: "Why?"]—and permit the Motions on the Order Paper to proceed. Mr. Crouch.

Mr. John Lewis (Bolton, West)

On a point of order——

Mr. Janner (Leicester, North-West)

On a point of order——

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

Mr. Janner.

Mr. Janner

May I ask your guidance——

Hon. Members


Mr. Arthur Lewis (West Ham, North)

Be quiet. My hon. Friend is asking a question of Mr. Deputy-Speaker.

Mr. Janner

For the purpose of the business of this House, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, what can you suggest to prevent this kind of farcical arrangement from taking place in the future? In the interests of the country and the proper procedure of this House, if this kind of practice is continued in the future,, is there any method by which the House can protect itself?

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

The House is, of course, master of its own affairs and it can make use of its own procedure to carry out whatever it wishes. Mr. Crouch.