asked the President of the Board of Trade why 120-volt. Exide batteries which are sold at 11s. 1d. are in short supply and other 120-volt. batteries of less reliable make, and sold at 15s. 6d., only are available; whether there is a price control order to cover the full range of batteries for wireless sets; and, if so, why is the difference of 4s. 5d. allowed to certain makes of similar voltage.
Wireless batteries are now in short supply, owing to the heavy demands of the Services, and it is necessary, therefore, to make use of the output, although small, of the higher-cost producers. Prices are controlled under the Prices of Goods Act, 1939, and those charged for both classes of battery referred to by my hon. Friend have been investigated and approved by the Central Price Regulation Committee.
While I appreciate what my right hon. Friend has said, is he not aware that batteries are largely used by people in small homesteads who are in lowly circumstances, who cannot understand why good batteries cannot be obtained while there is a plentiful supply of inferior ones from firms of doubtful reputation? Cannot he make some adjustment on behalf of small cottagers?
I am very anxious to get a fair distribution of whatever supplies there are, but the best batteries are required for the Services in a very great and increasing quantity. The less satisfactory batteries are less than 10 per cent. of the whole and they are better than nothing at all.