§ 39, 40 and 41. Mr. W. J. Edwards
asked the Minister of Supply (1)if he is aware that the application made by the Banco Building Co. Ltd., Stepney Green, London, E.1, for a licence to obtain stainless steel was referred by his department to the National Association of Shop-fitters for them to make inquiries, in the course of which they forwarded an application form for membership of the association to the applicants for the licence; and if this practice has his approval;
(2)if he is aware that the practice of referring applications for licences to obtain material to the National Association of Shopfitters is unfair to those firms which are not members of the association; and if he will give instructions that this practice is to cease;
(3)when the Banco Building Co. Ltd., London, E.1, may expect a decision on the application made by them last February for a licence to obtain stainless steel.
§ Mr. Sandys
I assume that the hon. Member is referring to Barco (Shop-fitters) Ltd. A licence was issued to the firm on 5th December to use stainless steel for shop fittings. From the time that the Nickel (Prohibited Uses) Order was made in June, 1951, it was the practice to consult the National Association of Shopfitters about cases of this kind and I am satisfied that the advice given has always been completely impartial. I recognise, however, that this procedure is liable to cause apprehension on the part of firms who are not members of the Association. I have, therefore, given instructions that the procedure should cease.
§ Mr. Edwards
While I thank the right hon. Gentleman for his reply, may I ask if he is aware that the licence was not issued until after I had put the Question on the Order Book, that the application for this licence was made in February last and that it was because 664 of the delay as the result of submitting the application to the National Association of Shopfitters and his own Department that this firm was possibly going into liquidation? They were unable to accept orders since they made the application for the licence in February last. I thank him for the fact that he has appreciated that this practice is a wrong one and I ask him to see that in no circumstances firms outside the National Association of Shopfitters will be penalised in this way because of the procedure in his Department.
§ Mr. Sandys
I could not, in answer to a supplementary question, go into all the details of what happened, but I have here a long list of particulars of the correspondence which took place. It is not nearly so simple a matter as the hon. Gentleman suggests.