Retail Trade.

Oral Answers to Questions — Trade and Commerce. – in the House of Commons on 4th August 1942.

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Photo of Sir Spencer Summers Sir Spencer Summers , Northampton

asked the President of the Board of Trade what method he will adopt for applying the policy of the Government in connection with the retail trade, in the light of the recommendations made by the Non-food Retail Trade Committee, namely, by Order in Council or by legislation?

Photo of Major Henry Procter Major Henry Procter , Accrington

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he can make any further statement as to his proposals for dealing with retail traders?

Photo of Mr Hugh Dalton Mr Hugh Dalton , Bishop Auckland

I am advised that legislation would be necessary to give effect to the recommendations of the Retail Trade Committee, but I am also aware that there is formidable opposition to these recommendations among the interests affected. As regards future policy, I am not at present able to add anything to the full statement which I made in the House on 23rd July.

Photo of Sir Spencer Summers Sir Spencer Summers , Northampton

May we take it that the Minister will not implement the Government's policy on this matter by Order in Council?

Photo of Mr Hugh Dalton Mr Hugh Dalton , Bishop Auckland

I am advised that in particular the imposition of the compulsory levy would require legislation.

Mr. De la Bère:

What is the Government's policy? No one knows. Have they got one?

Mr. De la Bère:

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he would give facilities for the convening of a meeting, embracing all sectional associations of the retail trade and to preside at that meeting, with a view to securing unanimity so as to enable the Government to prepare the necessary protective legislation for the small trader?

Photo of Mr Hugh Dalton Mr Hugh Dalton , Bishop Auckland

No, Sir. I have recently seen the principal retail trade organisations separately, and am acquainted with their views. I see no prospect of securing unanimity, even if I were to adopt my hon. Friend's suggestion.

Mr. De la Bère:

Is not the right hon. Gentleman aware that something must be done to meet the present situation? Further is he aware that someone must initiate the beginning? The matter cannot be allowed to drift on and leave people to be completely wiped out. In view of the admission the right hon. Gentleman made on 12th May about small traders being the backbone of the country, it is absolutely disgraceful.

Photo of Mr Hugh Dalton Mr Hugh Dalton , Bishop Auckland

Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will re-read the speech I made on 23rd July, in which he will find indications of what is to be done.

Mr. De la Bère:

I am referring to 12th May.

Photo of Mr Hugh Dalton Mr Hugh Dalton , Bishop Auckland

The other is more recent.