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Volume 387: debated on Tuesday 2 March 1943

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asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that clubs and licensed houses holding a catering licence from the Ministry of Food are entitled to an issue of coupons for the purchase of towels, whereas clubs and licensed houses not holding such a licence do not receive coupons for this purpose; and whether he will take steps to remove this anomaly, in view of the large number of premises which do not hold such a licence but which use a considerable number of towels?

I regret that, owing to the shortage of supplies, I cannot at present make any provision of tea-towels for the use of clubs and licensed houses which are not licensed by the Ministry of Food as catering establishments. I shall review the matter again a little later in the light of the supplies then available.


asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is yet in a position to make any statement about the provision of towels for people whose occupational requirements necessitate an exceptionally heavy use of these?

Yes, Sir. In addition to the existing facilities for hospitals, I have now made arrangements to provide a special allowance of towels up to the end of December for factories and certain medical users. The factory allowance will be at the rate of four coupons for every 10 manual workers employed, with a further four coupons for every 10 engaged oh particularly dirty occupations. These towels are to be kept for communal use by those entitled to them. The allowance for doctors, district nurses, midwives, registered masseurs and veterinary surgeous will be at the basic rate of four coupons each, and for dentists and registered chiropodists at the basic rate of eight coupons each. Additional coupons will be issued to doctors, dentists and veterinary surgeons with exceptional needs. I propose also to make a special allowance for dairy farms and certain food trades. Details of this are under discussion. I regret that I cannot see my way at present to make any other special allowances.

Production of towels is limited by the need to conserve shipping space, cotton and labour, and these special allowances will absorb no less than one-fifth of the maximum production likely to be available for the civil population. In view of the shortage of supplies, I earnestly hope that those who become entitled to these allowances will not apply for them until their need is really urgent. By deferring their applications they will help to ease the strain on supplies.

Is the right hon. Gentleman prepared to extend the concession to the hairdressing trade, as thousands of hairdressers are having to refuse head-cleansing treatment, as a consequence of which there is a serious danger to public health?

I have had the hairdressers very much under consideration with regard to this. If my hon. Friend would like to see me, I shall be glad to have a talk with him.