War Situation.

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons on 25th February 1942.

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Photo of Mr Frederick Pethick-Lawrence Mr Frederick Pethick-Lawrence , Edinburgh East

Of course, I have given it to the Department and it is being looked into. I mention it as an illustration. I do not think it is a slur upon industry as a whole, because I was careful to say that I am quite aware that it is not typical of industry as a whole. What I do say is that wherever cases of that kind arise it is essential that the Ministry of Labour—and perhaps also the Ministry of Production if it be concerned—should act, and act vigorously, to get rid of such instances of "Blimpery" as I have tried to expose.

I come finally to the sumptuary question. My hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) and other speakers have already made reference to it. In spite of the Income Tax, in spite of the rationing of food, of petrol and other articles, there is still an immense amount of luxury expenditure and wasteful self-indulgence. All sorts of expensive foods can be bought and consumed by persons whose wealth remains intact. All sorts of expensive and unnecessary amusements are indulged in. I am not by any means suggesting that this applies generally. I believe in all ranks of life there is a real attempt among the great bulk of the people to live frugally and to contribute substantially to the savings of the nation, but we all know that such things as I have referred to do go on, and on a scale which affects other people very seriously when they see what is happening.

Everyone who is in touch with the workers knows how detrimental it is to the vigour of the war effort when they see what is happening among a certain class of people. I say, without any doubt, that "Blimpery" is still rampant in certain circles, and it is up to the Ministers concerned to put a stop to it. I do not pretend to decide what the remedy may have to be. I think the Chancellor of the Exchequer will have to play his part, and that the Secretary of State for the Home Department, the Minister of Food and the President of the Board of Trade will all have to take action, and that not until that action is carried through shall we get the state of feeling in our society which is really required. I have come to the end of what I have to say. I have attempted to give a few illustrations of some of the things in which vital changes are required, but in my view "Blimpery"—