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

My hon. Friend says, "Hear, hear." Let us examine the truth of that view. The rights of property have been virtually suspended for the period of this war. Any man may have his business establishment or his factory requisitioned. In the last two years nearly 9,000 premises have been requisitioned, 90,000,000 square feet have been taken over on the authorisation of the Factory and Storage Control. The result is that the work of probably hundreds of thousands of men has been saved in building munition and other factories, but the burden on the owners of those factories and on those who work in those factories has been tremendous. These factories are economic and social units. Their destruction causes pain and dislocation, not only to those immediately in them, but to the whole neighbourhood about them. I cannot praise too highly the spirit in which these real industrial tragedies have been borne by the vast Majority of those upon whom they have descended; and, not least, the small shopkeepers—indeed, shopkeepers as a whole—deserve a word of praise. That they are a real social asset we all agree. That they have had, are having, and, I am afraid, will have in future, a very raw deal, and that they will go through a very difficult time, we must all admit. But it is the policy of my right hon. Friend and of the Government to see that nothing unfair is done to them, to see that the scales are held evenly. It is not the policy of my right hon. Friend and the Government to try to alter the structure of trade during the war, to use the conditions of the war to affect the structure of trade. It is rather their policy to do what they can to ensure that when this war is over, those who have done their best for their country during the war shall have their chance of entering upon a period of prosperity, in substantially the same sphere as that which they were in when we entered the war.