HC Deb 25 October 1949 vol 468 cc122-5W
79. Mr. Ellis Smith

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will make arrangements to allow decorated pottery to be sold throughout the country.

Mr. H. Wilson

Because of the shortage of certain types of labour, we are still unable to produce enough decorated pottery of the right kinds to meet the North American demands. While this is so, I regret that I cannot afford to relax the present restrictions on the sale of decorated pottery at home. As my hon. Friend may be aware from the statement which I made on 22nd March concerning the removal of some industrial controls, certain articles which are not in such great demand abroad may be supplied at home in plain colours. I am in constant touch with the trade about the possibility of making further relaxations as soon as this can be done without damaging valuable exports.

80. Mr. Ellis Smith

asked the President of the Board of Trade what recent steps have been taken to increase the output of pottery; and what steps are contemplated.

Mr. H. Wilson

In the reply to my hon. Friend on 10th February I enumerated some of the steps which were being taken to increase the output of pottery, and I propose to give him a summary of the action taken on the report of the Pottery Working Party, in answer to the next Question on the Order Paper. We have persevered with all these measures and the output of the industry has continued to increase this year. Shortages at home are pretty well ended. Export markets, however, continue to demand more decorated ware than we can produce owing to the shortage of certain types of labour. My right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour and I are doing everything possible to help the industry to recruit suitable workers. Deliveries of lithographs, which earlier were inadequate, have much improved and with encouragement from the Government, the printers are doing their utmost to increase still further the volume and variety of their supplies. We shall, with the industry's co-operation, persevere along the lines I have described.

81. Mr. Ellis Smith

asked the President of the Board of Trade what action has been taken on the Working Party's Report on the Pottery Industry.

Mr. H. Wilson

Following is a summary of the action that has been taken on some of the Working Party's principal recommendations.

1. The Working Party recommended that the Government should facilitate the industry's plans for reconstruction. In fact, with the support of the Government the industry has made great strides with its modernisation and re-equipment programme, having completed over £1 million worth of building since the war and having installed some 100 continuous ovens, as well as much other modern equipment, including semi-automatic making machinery. Forty-seven firms in the industry have taken advantage of the Board's Production Efficiency Service in connection with improving their layout and methods (Recommendations 1, 7 and 9).

2. New Pottery (Health) Special Regulations have been put into force since the Working Party reported, and draft Pottery Health and Welfare Regulations are now the subject of a Public Inquiry (Recommendation 2).

3. A new Wages Structure for the industry came into force in November, 1946, with a provision in the agreement establishing that it should be re-examined annually (Recommendation 3).

4. The Finance Acts of 1946 and 1949, by improving the depreciation allowances on building, plant and machinery, have gone a considerable way to meet the circumstances which gave rise to the Working Party's recommendation (Recommendation 4).

5. The B.S.I. "Kilns for general pottery industry" Sub-Committee of the Furnaces, Ovens and Kilns Committee, on which the British Pottery Research Association was represented, produced in 1947 a standard schedule for the thermal evaluation of ovens and kilns in the pottery industry (Recommendation 12).

6. The British Ceramics Research Association is examining methods of mixing and processing materials (Recommendation 13).

7. The British Pottery Manufacturers' Federation has already done a good deal of work on carton packing (Recommendation 16).

8. The British Pottery Manufacturers' Federation consider that exports of pottery cannot be promoted by co-operative action on the lines recommended and have not taken action on this recommendation (Recommendation 17).

9. Supplies of sanitary earthenware are now reasonably adequate to meet the demands both of the housing programme and the export trade (Recommendation 18).

10. The British Pottery Research Association has been fused with the British Refractories Research Association under the title "British Ceramics Research Association." The Director of the new Association was previously Director of the British Refractories Research Association. The results of the Association's work are made known to its members by the issue from time to time of suitable notes. The Association is in the process of being equipped with large modern premises (Recommendation 22).

11. A craft training scheme for boy apprentices is already working so far as present accommodation allows (Recommendation 23).

12. The British Pottery Manufacturers' Federation have recently given five travelling scholarships for potential designers (Recommendation 24).

13. The establishment of a Development Council to fulfil the functions suggested by the Working Party for a standing advisory body is under discussion with the two sides of the industry, but no agreement has yet been reached.

(The numbers refer to the Summary of Principal Recommendations on pages 48–51 of the Pottery Working Party Report).

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