§ Mr. W. R. SMITH
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether it is intended to withdraw or modify the condition governing the production of wartime boots?
The war-time boot will be withdrawn when the Department is satisfied that the manufacturing and distributing branches of the trade can resume their normal trade conditions without materially increasing the prices of footwear to the general public.
§ Brigadier-General CROFT
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether it is a fact that, when the war-time boot scheme was launched, only necessary goods for the working classes and those classes who had been hardest hit by the War were intended to be manufactured; whether the latest additions in willow calf boots and shoes, and the variations from the original specifications, such as punching on goloshes, vamps, and patent toe-caps, should be considered as luxuries and not as necessaries; and, if so, what steps he intends to take to protect the boot retailers who are thus deprived of the sale of certain goods upon which they had to rely to compensate them for the lowering of profits which prevails on the war-time goods?
The war-time boot was instituted in order to secure that the members of the general public should be able to obtain boots at a reasonable price. There was no restriction except the exclusion of the highest grade boot. The boots were manufactured and distributed at rates of profit agreed between the War Office and the manufacturers and distri- 1811W butors. The War Office agreed that not more than 33⅓ per cent. of the total productions of walking boots should be included in the range. The undertaking has been carried out, and the public have been enabled to secure 14,000,000 pairs of war-time boots at controlled prices. The willow calf boots were introduced because a small quantity of this description of leather was included in the supplies of various kinds of leather purchased on behalf of the War Department in America. The total number of willow calf boots will only amount to 425,000 pairs, and this comparatively small quantity can hardly be supposed likely to endanger the higher class of trade of the boot distributors. The variations and minor changes in specification have been introduced partly as a result of requests from the trade with a view to making the control less stringent, and they are the preliminary steps towards leaving the trade free to resume its pre-war conditions as regards meeting the varying demands of the public. The only reason for extending the scope of the wartime boot has been to protect the wage-earning sections of the public against unduly high prices for footwear.