HC Deb 02 November 1939 vol 352 cc2128-9W
Mr. Mitchell

asked the Minister of Supply what were the circumstances in which he issued the Control of Shirts Order?

Mr. Burgin

The War Office asked at short notice for the provision of a very large requirement of woollen vests, of which 250,000 were wanted immediately. Efforts were made to purchase the 250,000 from manufacturers' stocks, but only 60,000 could be obtained in this way. I was not satisfied that this quantity represented all the vests in the hands of manufacturers, and I therefore made the Order in question. The Order enabled the Ministry to take possession of all vests of a specified description at the works of manufacturers or in warehouses, and as it happens that these vests are known in the trade as woollen shirts, the term "Woollen Shirts" was used in the Order.

The staff of the Ministry deputed to carry out the requisitioning were instructed to be ready at all centres where the goods were manufactured or warehoused in order to go through the premises with the minimum of delay. They were to present the Order and after selecting the vests required to hand the firm concerned an order releasing them from the further operation of the Order. In no case was the ordinary business of the firm held up for more than two hours. Over 120 firms were visited in the course of four days. The control then ended and the Order had produced over 200,000 vests which had not previously been offered to the Government.