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Small Traders (Women)

Volume 389: debated on Thursday 20 May 1943

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the President of the Board of Trade whether he will confer with the Minister of Labour regarding the recent pronouncements in connection with the calling up of one-woman shopkeepers and the wives of small one-man family businesses where the husband has been called up, in view of the possibility of these women being directed to full-time or substantial part-time employment, which would necessitate the closing down of the businesses?

My right hon. Friend has done so, and has been assured by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour that any woman in the position described may apply for her case to be considered on grounds of exceptional business hardship.

Is not the Minister aware that the attitude of the Government in regard to the small, round-the corner shopkeeper shows a definite failure to understand the apprehension and the uncertainty which are caused? Is it not a fact that to reprieve him is not enough? What he wants is an assurance. Will my hon. and gallant Friend ask the Minister of Labour to give further attention to this matter, which is not only not satisfactory but is thoroughly unsatisfactory?

Is not the Minister aware that the policy of taking one person out of a small business in which only two persons are involved is causing ruin to those persons in many instances? Is it not a mockery to suggest that the remaining person ought to get alternative labour, when it is impossible to do so?

I am well aware of the hardship in these cases and it is for that reason that the Minister of Labour has agreed that hardship shall be a consideration taken by these appeal tribunals.