Industrial Concentration and Retail Trade.

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

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Photo of Mr Charles Waterhouse Mr Charles Waterhouse , Leicester South

I can assure my hon. and gallant Friend that my right hon. Friend will not pay undue attention to one argument or another, and that he will weigh up all the arguments that have been put in this House and that have been put outside the House. [Interruption.] No doubt hon. Members will find-ways, possibly through the usual channels, of conveying their opinions, either to my right hon. Friend direct, or to me. I shall be very glad to pass them on. My hon. Friend the Member for South-East Ham raised one particular question about the levy. He asked if it was to be a business expense. I think my right hon. Friend made that fairly clear in his opening speech. He said he thought that as far as the business expense angle was concerned it would probably be allowed as such in the profit and loss account for tax purposes. [Interruption.] My right hon. Friend is a Member of the Government and I think it can be said that the Government speaks with one indivisible voice on such matters. In so far as this levy might be allowed to effect prices I think he is on much more difficult and dangerous ground, and as the hon. Member for Frome pointed out it is by no means certain that when certain businesses are cut out, the shops that remain will be so far out of pocket as would seem to be the case now. The hon. Member for Putney raised a point about the chemists being left out. These, again, like the cooperatives, are a rather favoured industry. I am fairly sure, too, that if they were faced with the alternative of either standing out of such a scheme should it be decided upon, or of coming in and supporting their confreres, they would, without the slightest doubt, decide to help.