§ Mr. Gaitskell
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware of the high prices now being charged for women's non-utility clothing; and what steps he proposes to take to deal with the matter.
§ Sir S. Cripps
Yes, Sir. After consultation with the Central Price Regulation Committee, I am making an Order fixing maximum prices for women's ready-made non-utility outerwear. For each main type of ready-made garment, there will be two maximum prices, the higher of which will apply to any garment and the lower to garments made from cloth of limited prices. Thus the maximum retail price of a wool overcoat or costume (including Purchase Tax) will be £20; if made from cloth weighing not less than 10 0zs. per yard and costing 12s. a yard or less (manufacturers' price), the price may not exceed £14. The corresponding maximum utility prices are £6 4s. 3d. for an overcoat and £6 2s. 2d. for a costume.
This control will not be reinforced by the addition of cost-plus, at any rate so long as the concession is not abused and the industry can satisfy me by the provision of periodic information that a reasonable supply of garments is available at prices below the maximum laid down. These maximum prices will apply to manufacturers as from the 1st January next and to retailers as from the 1st March. The later date will give time to retailers to get rid of any higher priced stocks, but as such stocks are small and as supplies received after the 1st January will be at the lower prices, I hope that, starting in January, this Order will bring about a considerable reduction in the excessive prices which are now sometimes charged, whilst permitting the production of high quality garments to continue.