§ 70. Mr. J. Cooper
asked the President of the Board of Trade the percentage increase in the cost of wages and raw materials, respectively, which were taken into account when the increase in the maximum price of utility boots and shoes was recently authorised.
§ Mr. Rhodes
The revised maximum prices for utility boots and shoes took account of increases in costs between May, 1950, when the previous maximum prices were fixed, and April, 1951. The increase in wage costs was about 5 per cent. As to materials, there are wide variations in the types of leather used in footwear manufacture, and the price movements have not been uniform. But the increase in the cost of leather to footwear manufacturers between May, 1950, and April, 1951, was, on average, about 70 per cent.
§ 71. Mr. Wise
asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will reconsider the proposed increase in the prices of children's boots and shoes and make such adjustments in the prices of other footwear that it may not be necessary to raise the prices of children's articles, or if he will arrange with the manufacturers for an improvement in the quality of children's boots and shoes in order that parents may feel assured that they are receiving better value for their rising expenditure.
§ Mr. Rhodes
I am afraid that, if price arrangements of the kind suggested by my hon. Friend were introduced, supplies of children's footwear would not be sufficient to meet the need, since manufacturers specialising in children's footwear would not be able to operate except at a loss.
As regards the second part of the Question, I am satisfied that the great majority of children's boots and shoes produced under the utility scheme is of reasonable quality. We have a small staff of inspectors who are continually visiting footwear factories and where products appear to, or are reported to, fall below the standard required by the utility scheme, they pursue the case with the manufacturers concerned.