Retail Profits, Scotland

Oral Answers to Questions — Trade and Commerce – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 3rd November 1949.

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Photo of Lieut-Colonel Sir Thomas Moore Lieut-Colonel Sir Thomas Moore , Ayr District of Burghs 12:00 am, 3rd November 1949

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware of the resentment amongst the retail traders in Scotland by reason of his cut of retail gross profit percentages, and his failure to take consultations with the trade before making it; and what action he proposes to take to meet their criticisms.

Photo of Mr Harold Wilson Mr Harold Wilson , Ormskirk

I was informed of the views of retail traders in Scotland and elsewhere at meetings with their representatives which I held in August about the reduction in retailers' maximum gross margins on utility clothing, footwear and household textiles. The views then expressed were taken fully into account before I decided on the extent of those reductions and before I made the orders bringing them into effect. I have undertaken to review the position before the end of the year.

Photo of Lieut-Colonel Sir Thomas Moore Lieut-Colonel Sir Thomas Moore , Ayr District of Burghs

As it would appear that the Minister by reason of this particular action and others has lost the confidence of the trading community, does he not think it would be wise for him to resign his office and allow someone else to carry on?

Photo of Mr Harold Wilson Mr Harold Wilson , Ormskirk

I have the consumers to think of as well as the trading community. I need hardly inform the hon. and gallant Gentleman that the trading community have done far better in the last four years than they have ever done before in their history.

Photo of Mr Cecil Poole Mr Cecil Poole , Lichfield

Will the President of the Board of Trade now consider publishing those retail margins in the OFFICIAL REPORT in order that the House may be competent to judge?

Photo of Mr Harold Wilson Mr Harold Wilson , Ormskirk

If my hon. Friend will put a Question down I will consider it, but to publish them in the OFFICIAL REPORT would take an undue amount of space. I will consider, however, means of bringing them to the attention of hon. Members.

Photo of Mr Ronald Chamberlain Mr Ronald Chamberlain , Lambeth Norwood

If some of these clothing retailers think they are not doing very well, would it not be a good idea if Debenhams, with their £1,200,000 profit, their 125 per cent. dividend, and their 300 per cent. bonus issue, helped them out a little?