§ 13. Mr. Shepherd
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he will now reduce the deposit necessary for the hire-purchase of furniture to 10 per cent.
§ 16. Lieut.-Colonel Lipton
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he will now ease the restrictions imposed on the hire-purchase of furniture.
§ 19. Mr. Collins
asked the President of the Board of Trade if he is aware that the Hire Purchase and Credit Sale Agreements (Control) Order, 1955, has reduced sales and employment in the furniture industry by approximately one-third; and if, pending a general review of the situation, he will cancel that part of the Order which prohibits the consolidation of agreements.
§ Mr. P. Thorneycroft
I am considering representations from the industry that hire-purchase restrictions on furniture should be eased.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Lipton
If the idea is to check inflation, why not do something about the biggest and most irresponsible Stock Exchange boom for years instead of embarking upon a policy of deliberately creating unemployment in the furniture trades?
§ Mr. Collins
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the first representations were made to him by the industry at the end of April, and does not he think that nearly two months is a long enough time for him to take to decide how to come to the aid of this distressed industry? In particular, will he make some comment on the suggestion in my Question that the point about the consolidation of agreements should be dealt with now as a matter of urgency?
§ Mr. Thorneycroft
In answer to the hon. Gentleman's Question, I would say that in fact employment is not down by one-third; employment is 137.2 thousand and is still higher than it was in April last year.
Mr. John Hall
Is my right hon. Friend aware that, while the Hire-Purchase Order has had little effect on that centre of good furniture, Wycombe, it is true that it has had a very bad effect on some areas, and that if the deposit were reduced and if consolidation agreements were allowed that would do much to improve the position? Will my right hon. Friend receive further representations on the subject?
§ Mr. Thorneycroft
I am aware that the effect of this Order has been different in different parts of the country.