HC Deb 08 May 1952 vol 500 cc525-6
4. Mr. Arthur Lewis

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will introduce legislation to make it obligatory on manufacturers of clothing to show clearly on all articles the materials used in manufacture, and composition of all such articles.

Mr. P. Thorneycroft

While I am not prepared to introduce a mass of Orders and Regulations on a subject as complex as textile labelling, I would remind the hon. Member that false trade description is an offence under the Merchandise Marks Act of 1887. And I think, as I said in my statement during the debate on the Prayers to revoke the ending of the Utility Scheme on 1st May, that accurate description can best be fostered through action which is being taken by the various branches of industry working in collaboration with the British Standards Institution and with the active support and encouragement of the Government.

Mr. Lewis

While appreciating that lengthy and full reply, may I ask if it is not possible for the right hon. Gentleman to consider means of describing clothing so that people who buy it will be able to clean it without damaging the fabric? Dry cleaners are finding it difficult to clean clothes as the chemicals used in dry cleaning sometimes ruin the cloth. Housewives are also finding it difficult to clean their clothes properly.

Mr. Thorneycroft

I think a good many manufacturers of the new types of fabrics are allowing for that, but it is better dealt with by them through the mechanism I have outlined rather than the imposition of Regulations by the Government as to how people ought to clean clothes.

Mr. A. G. Bottomley

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that it was the intention of the last Government to amend the Merchandise Marks Act? Is it the intention of the present Government to continue with that?

Mr. Thorneycroft

I have already said so.

Mr. Lewis

While agreeing that we do not want a lot of Regulations, may I ask if the right hon. Gentleman does not appreciate that there are difficulties both ways? Does he not think it would be advisable to try to prevent clothes from being ruined? Both housewives and dry cleaners do not really understand what damage is being done to them.