Normally demand for sanitary towels runs at a rate of just under 5·3 million dozen a month and production was held rather above this level until the end of last June. But largely on account of factory and V.J. holidays, production fell to 5.2million dozen in July and to 3·9 million dozen in August. Although there was recovery to 5·6 million in September, it was insufficient to prevent shortage in the shops which caused anxiety and forward buying which in turn led to more widespread shortage in October.
Emergency measures have been applied. Firstly, although exports have been small, we have stopped supplies leaving the country. Secondly, the Service Departments have given up part of their small stock and this is now coming on the market. Thirdly, the cotton allocation for October to December has been increased to permit production up to a rate of 6·3 million dozen. And fourthly, as an insurance and to provide further immediate relief, dollar currency is being spent on imports; between now and the beginning of January we expect to get from 2½ to 3 million dozen sanitary towels from the U.S.A. and about half the quantity should arrive during the next few weeks. It is clear from the figures that the additional supplies now becoming available are considerably in excess of the quantities lost by the temporary setback in July and August and I have now every confidence that in the near future the shortage at home will end. I greatly regret any distress and inconvenience that may have been caused by the shortage and I can assure the House and the public that these additional supplies will be coming along soon and that there is now no need for further anxiety.