HC Deb 22 April 1948 vol 449 cc1983-5
14. Mr. Keeling

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he has seen the Board's Press notice, dated 12th April, giving the name and address of the Scottish maker of a rug exhibited at the British Industries Fair and praising its durability and beauty; and whether he will give instructions that his Department is not to advertise individual firms in future.

Mr. H. Wilson

No, Sir, I do not consider that adequate publicity can be obtained for an export trade fair unless reference is made by description to goods which are going to be exhibited.

Mr. Keeling

But does the President of the Board of Trade think it right that his Department should have had advertised this product as the "housewife's dream," "the rug that will not wear out," "a rug that gives a soothing effect to any bedroom"?

Mr. Wilson

I admit that, in the choice of the phrases, we did rely on information supplied by the firm. I want, however, to assure the hon. Gentleman that there is no discrimination in this matter, and that every one of the 13 exhibitors of carpets and rugs in this section of the Fair was invited to say whether he wished to have a statement of this kind made. Only two availed themselves of this opportunity.

Mrs. Jean Mann

Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that there is a larger ratio of unemployment in Scotland than in England, and will he place in its true perspective the remarks emanating from England, casting any reflection on the durability and beauty of anything from Scotland?

Lieut.-Colonel Sir Thomas Moore

In any case, would the right hon. Gentleman say what objection there is to referring to products of outstanding merit just because they are made in Scotland? Is it envy?

Mr. Wilson

Well, that was just what I was saying in my answer to the Question.

Mr. Molson

Does not the right hon. Gentleman consider that his Department should only encourage the sale of British products in general; and is it not a rather unfortunate departure to advertise individual products?

Mr. Wilson

No, Sir, there has been no departure at all. This is a very old practice—almost as old as the Fair itself. It is full of difficulty, I know, but it is impossible to get the overseas Press to take notice of general statements made about rugs, or other products in general. We have to draw their attention to individual products.

Mr. Wyatt

Would my right hon. Friend resist all these attempts by the Opposition to crush private enterprise?

Mr. Wilson

Yes, Sir. I am always prepared to resist the Opposition.