HC Deb 31 July 1941 vol 373 cc1552-4W
Mrs. Rathbone

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he can make any statement regarding the supply of knitting wool without coupons to persons wishing to make comforts for relations in the Forces?

Captain Waterhouse

Yes, Sir. Arrangements are being made with certain national organisations having local branches, under which on and after 18th August persons wishing to knit comforts for near relatives in the Armed Forces serving away from their homes may obtain wool from local retailers without necessarily surrendering their coupons. The wool may be so obtained on condition that satisfactory evidence of despatch of the finished article to a member of the Forces is provided to the organisation handling the scheme. The first list of these organisations will be published during the course of next week. I shall be prepared to consider application for similar arrangements from other large organisations possessing local branches throughout the country provided satisfactory arrangements can be made for checking the destination of the comforts. At the same time I hope that in the interests of fair distribution and economy in the use of wool the main efforts of knitters will be directed towards supplying the common pool administered by the Navy, Army and Air Force authorities.

Mr. Riley

asked the President of the Board of Trade why young persons under 14 years of age, who wear the smaller sizes of boots and shoes, have to provide the same number of coupons as adult persons wearing larger sizes; and can he consider making some distinction for young persons under 15 or 16 years of age?

Captain Waterhouse

I would refer the hon. Member to the reply given to the hon. Member for Romford (Mr. Parker) on 22nd July.

Dr. Little

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that small traders benefited little through the promise given some time ago of certain supplies without coupons and that those who failed to get supplies in June, as the quotas were filled up, have now some of these goods offered to them but have not sufficient coupons to take up the goods; and whether he will see that these traders obtain the goods they were unable to get under the coupon-free arrangement?

Captain Waterhouse

No, Sir. The increase in the index of wholesale trade in textiles in June shows that considerably increased supplies went to the smaller shops. I am of course aware that some wholesalers were for one reason or another unable to provide additional supplies for all their retail customers and no promise was or could have been given that all retailers would obtain a certain quantity of goods without surrendering coupons. The difficulties of the supply position are such that an extension of the concession on the lines suggested by my hon. Friend is impracticable.

Sir Smedley Crooke

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is now in a position to announce his decision respecting the suggestion made by the hon. Member for Deritend of making concession to ex-service men with artificial legs in order that they can secure the extra trousers and socks necessarily required without forfeiting coupons to purchase the goods?

Captain Waterhouse

Stump socks and certain other garments needed by disabled ex-service men have recently been exempted from rationing. Arrangements will be made in due course to meet any further needs of persons who for medical or other special reasons require more than the normal clothing ration, but I cannot say at present whether persons with artificial legs are likely to fall into this category.