HC Deb 15 July 1941 vol 373 cc469-70W
Mr. Mander

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he can now make a statement with reference to the results obtained in the concentration of industry and how far compulsion has been or will be applied; and whether firms in industries which are not as yet specified are invited to bring forward voluntary proposals of their own?

Sir A. Duncan

The invitation to conclude agreements for concentration contained in the White Paper of March last has evoked a very satisfactory response Altogether nearly 110,000 workers have been released or are being made available for release under arrangements now in hand in the industries concerned. About 16,500,000 square feet of factory space has been placed at the disposal of the Controller-General of Factory and Storage Premises, a considerable proportion of which will be immediately available for war production or storage dispersal purposes. The period allowed for the submission of voluntary schemes on the basis prescribed in the White Paper has now come to an end. In a number of the lesser industries the results aimed at have been substantially achieved, and gratifying progress has been made in large sections of the more important industries affected by the Limitation of Supplies Orders or by the rationing of raw materials. The Board of Trade are, in conjunction with other interested Departments, now hastening the completion of these measures by themselves nominating nucleus firms. Regard is being had to the part which the firms are desired to play in supplying goods for Government orders, export and home civilian trade, and also to the demands in particular localities for factory space and labour. With regard to the second part of the Question, the application of this policy of concentration to other industries than those that were originally specified must depend to an important extent on whether the industry is one in which there is substantial surplus capacity, and in which concentration would release a substantial amount of labour or factory space useful for war purposes.