asked the President of the Board of Trade the number of businesses that have been concentrated up to date, stating what are those businesses, the number of firms closed down by this process and the number of nucleus firms left; whether concentration is being pursued further; and, if so, which industries are to be dealt with?
Concentration of production has been applied by my Department to nearly 70 branches of industry. Up to date, 6,156 nucleus certificates have been issued and 3,294 establishments have been closed. The only industries where concentration is now proceeding are the clothing and printing industries.
Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind the desirability of not concentrating industries in those parts of the country which suffered severe industrial depression between the two wars and are likely to suffer it again when this war is over?
I think my hon. Friend knows that I am very deeply concerned to see that we do not have, so far as it is within our power to prevent it, any repetition of the state of affairs in prewar distressed areas. These concentration matters are a war-time provision, and it is laid down in the White Paper issued by my predecessor that the Government will give all facilities for the re-opening at the end of the war of businesses which have been closed down. I will, however, bear in mind what my hon. Friend said.
If my right hon. Friend concentrates some of these small businesses out of existence during the war, it does not follow that they will re-open at the end of the war.