HC Deb 04 August 1942 vol 382 cc862-3W
Mr. Windsor

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he can make any statement regarding replacement of the stocks and premises of a bombed shopkeeper?

Mr. Dalton

After enemy action everything possible is done by the Board of Trade to make available to the bombed area supplies of goods required to meet essential needs, and particularly the needs of the people whose personal belongings have been destroyed. The replacement of bombed stocks must, however, inevitably affect the total volume of goods available for sale in the shops throughout the country. I think that traders have realised for some time that it is not always possible, with the present levels of production, for goods which are not absolutely necessary to be supplied in place of all the goods destroyed. I must keep in mind the essential needs of the consumer wherever he may be and plan accordingly. When a shopkeeper applies for a licence to rebuild or repair premises which have suffered war damage, I must apply the same test, since the expenditure of building materials and labour for such a purpose would be contrary to the national interest if the existing retail outlets are adequate to meet all vital needs. For the same reason, when shopkeepers whose premises have been damaged by enemy action cannot find alternative accommodation or share a shop occupied by a more fortunate neighbour, I must give preference, in the grant of licences under the Location of Retail Businesses Order, to those shopkeepers who are selling the goods of which the public stands most in need. My Department is discussing with retail organisations plans for adjusting traders' present schemes for mutual aid to meet these conditions.