Industrial Concentration and Retail Trade.

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons on 23rd July 1942.

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Photo of Sir Geoffrey Mander Sir Geoffrey Mander , Wolverhampton East

I know my hon. Friend thinks no one in the world can do anything better than the co-operative societies. They do most valuable work and are a vital part of the life of the community, but I do not think they should be considered exclusively to be above all other forms of human activity. As I was saying, we have before us recommendations from various bodies, and I wish to introduce a new one. It so happens that during the last two years there has been a committee of the Liberal party—the Liberal Independent Traders Inquiry Committee—studying this matter with the desire of making a contribution to this national problem, and making reports from time to time, particularly with reference to the situation as we find it to-day. Some of the comments I wish to make are based largely on the reports of this committee. I think we have to bear in mind when dealing with shops that there are two fundamental differences. In the case of a man called up compulsorily for the Forces so that he loses his business there ought to be full compensation, and it ought to be retrospective from the time he has to go. In the other case of a man whose business is closed because of restriction of supplies, that certainly requires compensation, but the person concerned has not anything like so strong a case as the man who has to go into one or other of the Services. The Retail Trade Committee have made some excellent recommendations, but I do not think they are adequate in all respects. It accepts the principle of compensation which is right, but it seems to me that too much compensation goes to the landlord and not enough to the trader himself. The Report contains no definite plan as to how shops are to be closed. If things are left as suggested in the Report they will go on closing haphazardly in the way they are going on at the present time.