In normal circumstances it might be desirable for all these trials to be carried on to their full conclusion and to be followed by careful examination by the Service Departments. However, in the present state of the re-armament clothing programme, and as a result of the acceleration of orders in that programme, there may be a case for departing from the normal rule and for taking decisions to order a small or large quantity of the mixed rayon material for more extensive trials in the Services. In some instances there may be a case for taking the decision now to include rayon mixture in the specification required for particular cloth that may be being ordered.
Yesterday, as the hon. Lady said, my right hon. Friend the Minister of Supply received a deputation led by her. The deputation included my hon. Friend and some other hon. Members and also leaders of the rayon industry. I have already said that there were other Government Departments there represented by Ministers, including the Board of Trade and the Admiralty. The deputation gave my right hon. Friend their views and their experience, for which he is grateful, and which he welcomed. My right hon. Friend then set up a working group under the chairmanship of myself, to include representatives of the Ministry of Supply and Service Departments as well as leaders of the industry, to examine the possibility of including rayon mixtures in some of the orders which remain to be placed.
Conclusions will be reached by this working group before the end of next week. Results will be rapid. I cannot say how great they will be. I must stress again that in this matter the Ministry of Supply has to carry with it its customers, the Service Departments, and that we accept completely that their specifications must be fully met. Moreover, we accept that no permanent change in the type of material used for Service clothing can be made without the fullest trials.
But our attitude to the general problem is plain. We want to help the rayon industry first, because we want to help to reduce or remove unemployment—and our actions may help to increase confidence in this way—and second, because we should welcome the increased use of rayon for balance of payments reasons, and our leadership in this matter must be of some importance.