A History of the Ministry of Information, 1939-46

2 1


The inquiry was made at the request of the Consumer Needs Section of the Board of Trade.

Its purpose was to examine the clothing needs of 15 occupational groups in which, in the opinion of the Board of Trade, the clothes of workers are subject to abnormal wear and tear and other damage, and to collect other information that would assist decisions on the allocation of supplementary awards of clothing coupons.

The occupational groups nominated by the Board were:

1. Women: engineering machinists. Women working full time at metal cutting machines.

2. and 3. Men and women in heavy engineering and shipbuilding, including workers on locomotives, carriages and waggons. (Shipbuilding included ship repairing).

4 and 5. Men and women in iron and steel manufacture.

6 and 7. Men and women in the distributive trades. These were mainly workers engaged in the distribution of heavy, bulky or dirty products; those engaged in van-delivery from retailer to consumer; hardware and furniture shop assistants; warehousemen; packers and waitresses.

8, 9, 10 and 11. Quarry workers (ironstone, limestone, clay and slate). These were workers engaged in winning the mineral from the earth, but not those concerned with brickmaking, kiln-working or other subsequent processes.

12. Building trades. This group included all craftsmen such as bricklayers, carpenters, plasterers, etc., and their labourers. Workers in steel erecting or constructional engineering were omitted.

13. Women agriculturists. (Excluding Women’s Land Army). Female relatives of farmers were included if working full time on agriculture.

14. Non-uniformed passenger and commercial transport. This group included drivers and guards of heavy road vehicles, and of vans and carts other than those used for retail distribution.

15. Men agriculturists.

It was suggested by the Survey that a control group representative of the normal civilian population should be included. But as the Consumer Needs Section stated that it already had information of a normal sample, this group was not included.

The original intention was that the 15th group should consist of women transport workers; but it was found on examining the statistics of women engaged in the categories of transport mentioned above that their number was too small for sampling. Later, when the field work was almost completed, the Consumer Needs Section asked that men agriculturists should be included. Their later inclusion is the reason for the small sample of 79.

The field work was started on 23rd March, and finished by 18th April, 1942. 23 investigators were employed. Those making interviews in Wales were chosen for their acquaintance with the Welsh language in order to overcome any difficulty that might have arisen on this score, particularly in the slate quarries of Dinorwic, Nantlle, Bethesda, etc.

Sampling. The geographical distribution of interviews by occupational group is given on page 69. The Survey is indebted to Miss F. I. Taylor of the Ministry of Labour, and to the Directorate of Mines Supplies, for co-operation in supplying lists of factories, building sites, shipyards, and quarries. The sampling had necessarily to be purposive since there were no available lists of people forming the population of each group.

There was much feeling among workers about the issue of supplementary clothing coupons, which feeling, if not guarded against, would have had results detrimental to the survey. Investigators were, therefore, asked to seek some place where it would be possible to have a quiet discussion with the person whom they were interviewing, e.g. away from their place of work, if possible. Where this could not be done investigators were asked to interview workers at random by their own selection, to avoid selection by the management or other interested parties, and to avoid arousing interest in other workers. Investigators were asked to report interviews which in their opinion were not frank and unbiassed statements.

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