3. Captain Duncan
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he can make a statement regarding the compilation of the register of small traders who have been, or may be, forced to close their businesses owing to the war?
§ Mr. Dalton
Yes, Sir. Plans are now complete for a register of traders who have withdrawn from retail trade since the war began or may be forced to withdraw before the war is over. Registration will be voluntary and subject to the following conditions:
A trader must have closed a shop since the beginning of the war. He must have been in business for a minimum period before closing. He must have dealt in goods or services covered by the Location of Retail Businesses Order. A shopkeeper who sold his business as a going concern will not be eligible for the register, but may apply to have his name entered on a supplementary list.
Application forms can be obtained from local Chambers of Trade or Chambers of Commerce, Citizens' Advice Bureaux, W.V.S. representatives in rural areas, or from the Board of Trade. Arrangements are also being made to advise members of His Majesty's Forces, both at home and overseas, and members of the Merchant Navy, how to apply. In certain cases applications may be made by proxy. All applications will be acknowledged without delay, but, as the staff on this work must be kept to a bare minimum, it may be some time before final acceptance can be notified.
As I have already stated, this register is "a first step to safeguard the interests of retail traders who have already withdrawn or who may be forced by circumstances to withdraw in future." Many 5 will wish to re-open their shops after the war, and, if, as seems likely, some control over the opening and re-opening of shops is continued for a time after the war, the information provided by the register and the supplementary list will help us to operate this control with fairness to those retailers who have been forced to close during the war.
May I thank the right hon. Gentleman for that statement, which will be very welcome to many small traders?
§ Mr. Rhys Davies
In view of the steps my right hon. Friend is now taking, will he ask his Department to consider making, after the war, a complete census of distribution in this country, as is done in some other countries?
§ Mr. Dalton
I very much regret that before the war no such census was made; if it had been, it would have helped me very greatly. As my right hon. Friend appreciates, man-power considerations make it quite impossible to embark on that now, but after the war I will certainly give it very careful and sympathetic consideration.
§ Mr. Doland
Does the right hon. Gentleman's statement mean that there will be a system of licensing for shop opening after the war?
If my hon. Friend will read the answer, in which I chose my words very carefully, he will see there just as much as can be said now.