HC Deb 13 March 1952 vol 497 cc1546-8
18. Mrs. Jean Mann

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will give comparable value of exports of nylon stockings this year, with exports 1949 and 1950, and how far these exports reveal recent changes in denier texture.

Mr. P. Thorneycroft

Exports of nylon stockings in January, as recorded in the Trade and Navigation Accounts, totalled £446,000, compared with a monthly average of £247,000 during 1949 and of £458,000 in 1950. These figures do not include exports by parcel post. The trade returns do not show the texture of the nylon stockings exported.

Mrs. Mann

I am not good at mental arithmetic when I am on my feet, and am not able to distinguish the exact difference between these exports. Could the Minister give any indication whether it is true to say that the 15-denier stocking is not popular now, and that our customers abroad are preferring the 30-denier stocking?

Mr. Thorneycroft

It is very difficult to differentiate between the various types of stocking, but the 15-denier is what is known as sheer, and the 30-denier stands up to harder use. I would not be prepared on these figures to differentiate between the two.

Mrs. Mann

Could I ask the right hon. Gentleman if we are exporting the 30-denier stocking, and if he would consider having a large quantity of them made available for British women, who prefer the harder-wearing stocking? Would it be possible to have a bigger output from the manufacturers of 30-denier stockings, so that all women, both at home and abroad, would be satisfied?

Mr. Dodds


Mr. George Chetwynd

Would the right hon. Gentleman have a sample of these stockings placed in the Library, so that we may see for ourselves?

27. Mrs. Mann

asked the President of the Board of Trade what steps are taken to prevent overcharging in regard to the sale of nylon stockings, and particularly those of sub-standard quality which are not so revealed at time of purchase.

Mr. P. Thorneycroft

Prices of nylon stockings are controlled. During the last nine months there were 311 prosecutions for overcharging on nylon stockings, but I am unable to say how many of these were concerned with sub-standard articles.

Mrs. Mann

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that it is a common practice to charge 12s. 6d. for sub-standard stockings that should be sold at 6s. 6d., and would it not be possible to have the substandard mark on the welt of the stocking so that women would know whether the article was sub-standard or not?

Mr. Thorneycroft

I understand that manufacturers normally sell nylons which are marked as imperfect or "seconds" at the reduced price.

Mrs. Mann

The mark is not visible to the customer. It may be in the agreement between the shopkeeper and the maker, but it is certainly not known to the person making the purchase.

Mr. Colegate

Is it not time that nylon stockings were decontrolled, in view of the present state of supplies, and all these criticisms obviated?

33. Mr. Gerald Nabarro

asked the President of the Board of Trade what is the anticipated output of nylon yarn for 1952 compared with 1951; whether all required capital investment for the industry will be permitted during 1952, in view of the foreign currency earning potentialities of nylon products; and what increase of nylon stockings for the home market can be anticipated this year.

Mr. P. Thorneycroft

I understand that production at the moment is running at the rate of about 10 million lb. a year. As this yarn is produced by one firm only, I do not think that it would be proper for me to disclose detailed figures of their output in 1951 and estimated output in 1952.

With regard to the second part of the Question, I would refer my hon. Friend to the statement on capital investment which was made by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer on 29th January. I cannot say whether it will be possible to fit all projects for expansion in this industry into the programme, but in considering these, due regard will, of course, be had to the importance of nylon both for export trade and for defence. Within the limited total production, requirements for defence and export must be given first call on supplies and I am not able to say how much yarn will be available this year for making stockings for the home market.