§ Mr. Sorensen
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware of the serious difficulties confronting many small business firms through loss of trade, inability to secure Government contracts and failure of their customers to meet their accounts; whether he is also aware of the difficulties arising from the reluctance of the banks to grant necessary credits with good security; and whether, in view of the cumulative effect of retailers, merchants and wholesalers being unable to meet their accounts and thus promoting economic dislocation, loss and 552W unemployment, he proposes to take any action to assist these small firms?
§ Mr. Stanley
While some temporary dislocation in particular localities is inevitable in the change-over of industry from a peace-time to a war-time basis, I do not think that the conditions to which the hon. Member refers are general. The banks must, of course, exercise their own judgment as to what credits are necessary and as to the merits of the security offered, but the hon. Member will observe that the latest figures show that the total of advances made by the clearing banks has increased and not diminished since the outbreak of war. As regards Government contracts, my right hon. Friend the Minister of Supply is replying to a question by the hon. Member on this point to-morrow.