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Utility Clothing

Volume 387: debated on Tuesday 16 March 1943

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asked the President of the Board of Trade, in view of the wide dissatisfaction with the austerity clothes regulations, whether he will consider the advisability of conferring with practical representatives of the bespoke "tailoring trade, as distinct from the manufacturing interests, with a view to amending the regulations, thereby making them more practical and thus removing the serious irritation they are causing to professional and business men in particular?

These regulations were introduced in May, 1942, after consultation with the trade. Their purpose was to effect a substantial economy in shipping space, materials and labour, and in this they have succeeded. The need for such economies is even more urgent now than it was ten months ago, and I could not agree to any amendment of these regulations which would diminish their effectiveness in this respect. Subject to this condition, I shall be glad to consider any representations which the trade may wish to make.

May I thank my right hon. Friend for being prepared to receive representatives of the bespoke tailoring trade and ask him whether the austerity regulations were originally intended to apply only to utility clothing and not to non-utility? Is it not a fact that trousers with turn-ups wear longer than non-turn-ups?

No, Sir. There was never any limitation of these regulations for utility clothing. Turn-ups are a very debatable subject. I do not accept the view of my hon. Friend, and I would like to let him know that on the turn-ups regulations alone millions of square feet of cloth have already been saved. The Services have no turn-ups, nor do many hon. Members of this House who take particular care of their tailoring.

With regard to my right hon. Friend's statement that he would be prepared to receive representations from the trade on this subject, has he not already received representations from the National Federation of Merchant Tailors?

I have not met them personally. A deputation came a few days ago and met the Director-General of Civilian Clothing at the Board of Trade and put certain suggestion to him. I repeat that, subject to the condition that these economies are essential and must be maintained, I am prepared to listen to anything the trade may submit.