§ 48. Mr. W. Roberts
asked the Minister of Supply whether he is aware that several woollen mills on both sides of the Scottish Border are likely to have to start working short time as a result of the insufficient wool supplies allocated to them by the Wool Control Board; and whether he will take prompt steps to remedy this?
§ The Minister of Supply (Mr. Burgin)
The wool available for manufacture for civilian, including export, purposes, after Government requirements have been met, is distributed equitably among the firms in the industry under a rationing scheme. It is open to any firm which considers itself unfairly treated to put its case before its Sectional Rationing Committee, which for this case is the Scottish Rationing Committee, and is composed of representatives of the industry, and is responsible for distributing the wool to individual firms. I understand that in the case of some firms in the district mentioned provisional allocation was made pending the determination of the full allotment available. This appears to have led to misunderstanding in some cases, but the full amount of its allotment has now I understand been communicated to every firm.
§ 60. Mr. W. Roberts
asked the Minister of Supply whether prices for British wools have been fixed; and whether all the arrangements for the sale of wool by Britsh farmers have been made so that farmers who are in need of ready money can proceed with the sale of their wool?
§ Mr. Burgin
Orders are about to be issued fixing the prices to be paid for British wools still in the farmers' ownership, and the arrangements for taking 1193 over such wools have been made. I should be ready to discuss with representatives of the farmers, as soon as possible, the principles on which the 1940 clip should be dealt with; on the assumption that the war conditions will continue and that the 1940 clip will be requisitioned. I hope that this assurance will make it clear that the Government recognises that to secure the production of adequate supplies of home-grown wool, prices must be fixed on an economic basis.
§ Mr. Roberts
Do I understand from that answer that before dealing with the 1940 clip arrangements have been carefully made for dealing with that of 1939?
§ Mr. Burgin
Wool is not one commodity. It consists of a very large number of grades, and I would prefer in question and answer not to go into detail. If the hon. Gentleman will put down a question I will see whether I can have the material extracted. In the Australian wool clip there are 900 grades.
§ 62. Mr. Leach
asked the Minister of Supply whether he is aware that the assurances of officers of the wool control that they will cease active participation in any business connected with the industry are not always being kept, either in the letter or the spirit, and that the bulk of the concerns in which they were interested are being carried on by partners, managers, or others; and whether he will replace them by persons who have been thrown out of work by the control?
§ Mr. Burgin
The answer to the first part of the question is in the negative.I have twice previously offered to investigate any evidence of unfair practices by officers of the Control, but none has been produced to me, and I very much deprecate general accusations, unsup- 1194 ported by evidence, against gentlemen who have undertaken a public service, in many cases at considerable inconvenience to themselves. In reply to the second part of the question, I have no doubt that the concerns in question are being carried on so far as circumstances permit. The answer to the third part of the question is in the negative, but I would refer the hon. Member to the answer which I gave to a question asked by him on 8th November.
§ Mr. Burgin
I know nothing of the kind. I know that whenever an allegation of this kind has been made against a controller or an officer in any part of the Ministry under my control I have invited those who have evidence to bring it forward, because it is in the interests of good administration to have matters of that kind cleared up once and for all, one way or the other.