HC Deb 20 January 1949 vol 460 cc42-3W
34. Mr. Hogg

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he will make a statement regarding the history, development, cost and prospects of Trident furniture.

Mr. H. Wilson

I assume that the hon. Member is referring to the composite furniture constructed of light alloys, plastic and other materials described in a statement which appeared in the Board of Trade Journal of 8th January. Some three years ago when the shortage of timber for furniture manufacture was most acute, experimental work was begun by the Directorate of Furniture Production of the Board of Trade, in collaboration with certain British furniture manufacturers, on the possibilities of making furniture from materials that were not in short supply. From this, prototypes of a new kind of cabinet furniture have been developed, the framework of which is made of aluminium alloys, and the panels of plastic or other materials.

Timber supplies subsequently improved, and it became unlikely that this furniture would be needed for the utility furniture scheme for which it was originally intended; but as a considerable amount of work had been done and the results appeared promising, it was decided to continue the work. Patents were taken out covering the methods of construction, and prototypes were made by a firm of furniture manufacturers under contract for the Board of Trade in order to test the possibilities of export to the North American market for which it seemed exceptionally suitable. These have just been shown at a trade exhibition in the U.S.A.

I am awaiting reports of the outcome of this exhibition. If they are promising —and, indeed, I hear preliminary reports are encouraging—I hope that it will be possible to arrange for furniture manufacturers here to take up production of the new furniture on a commercial scale and thereby make a useful contribution to our export trade. It is not the intention that the Government should undertake the manufacture of this furniture on a commercial scale. The cost of the development work on this furniture has been about £20,000.