HC Deb 12 June 1945 vol 411 cc1490-1W
Mr. Channon

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he has made any plans to protect the Servicemen in a high group who may have a licence to trade but who, when he seeks business or shop premises, will find that the best sites have already been taken by those who have received early release either from war work or from the Services.

Sir R. Blair

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is now able to make a statement regarding the licensing of retail businesses during the transition period.

Mr. Lyttelton

The Location of Retail Businesses Order was made in November, 1941, and the Register of Withdrawing Traders was compiled to safeguard the post-war prospects of those traders who, through being called to the Services, directed into munition work, or through other causes were forced to close their shops during the war; to protect shop keepers who were with difficulty carrying on their businesses against new and unfair competition; to prevent an unhealthy dispersal of the diminishing supply of consumer goods.

The time has, however, now come to make a start with allowing traders to reopen their businesses, and I have decided that, from 18th June, any ex-trader, whether or not he is serving in H.M. Forces, who is eligible for inclusion in the Register, shall be granted a licence as a matter of course to resume his former business. I have further decided that ex-traders, who wish to reopen in some area or line of business other than that in which they formerly traded, shall be allowed to do so provided this will not prejudice the interests of others on the Register.

Licences will continue to be granted, as hitherto, to war-disabled persons who were not formerly retailers (in these cases the Licensing Committee will take account of any advice by the Ministry of Labour on whether the applicant should be allowed to enter retail trade on his own account) and to persons who acquire the good will of an existing business or who remove to other premises in the same shopping area provided there is no change in the size or character of the business.

I expect that as a result of these f arrangements the number of new businesses opened will be sufficient to meet all essential public needs. I have, therefore, decided that for the time being, no further licences shall be granted on the grounds of essential public need. But sympathetic consideration will be given to cases where the refusal of licence would involve a high degree of personal hard-ship.

I am referring to non-food businesses, and my right hon. and gallant Friend the Minister of Food will shortly make an announcement concerning the extension of facilities for former food traders and owners of catering establishments to reopen their businesses.

Wing-Commander Errington asked the President of the Board of Trade how many owners of businesses closed due to war causes have registered with a view to restarting; and what proportion the figure is of the total so closed.

Mr. Lyttelton

Up to last Saturday 17,427 names had been accepted for inclusion on the Board's Register of Withdrawing Retail Traders. I have no information about the total number of shops closed since September, 1939.