§ Mr. Anthony Nutting
asked the President of the Board of Trade if he is aware that hosiery and knitwear goods purchased by His Majesty's Government during the war have been disposed of by his Department, free of coupons, at considerably less than either the original prices paid or the current market prices and against the advice of the trade committees concerned that the goods could and should be sold without loss and with coupons; and whether he will undertake that no further sales are made without prior consultation with the war emergency committees for hosiery and knitwear.
§ Sir S. Cripps
The general policy in disposing of these and other clothing surpluses is that the public should derive the maximum benefit from them, with a satisfactory return to the Exchequer. It was clear after consultation with the trade that surplus knitwear and hosiery of Service type would not sell readily if coupons had to be surrendered for them, and it was accordingly decided, as previously announced, that these surpluses should be sold coupon free. The Ministry of Supply who, as the disposal Department, are responsible for the negotiation and sale of individual arisings, are, I understand, satisfied that the prices obtained for hosiery are such as to result in retail prices which are fair and reasonable in relation to the prices of comparable articles on sale in the home civilian market. Surplus clothing is sold through the channels which have been agreed with the trades concerned and it would be impracticable to attempt separate consultation with trade organisations on individual arisings. I can assure the hon. Member, however, that it is the policy to seek and give due regard to the views of manufacturers whenever disposals are to be made which may affect current production.