HC Deb 08 December 1953 vol 521 cc1773-4
1. Miss Burton

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that blankets made entirely of fibres other than wool are being labelled by manufacturers as "Guaranteed Witney"; that such a label infers to the public an all-wool content; and whether he will take proceedings under the Merchandise Marks Act, 1953, against those responsible for applying the labels.

The President of the Board of Trade (Mr. Peter Thorneycroft)

No, Sir. It is for the courts to decide whether labelling as "Guaranteed Witney" implies any specific wool content.

Miss Barton

Is the Minister aware that I have here a picture of a sheep on a label which carries the words "Guaranteed Witney"? Is he further aware that this label is attached to a blanket made mainly of rayon and that a shopkeeper was prosecuted for selling it? Does he realise that there are thousands of blankets throughout the country still bearing this label? Will he ask the British Standards Institution to look into the matter and to test those blankets on the market which bear this label?

Mr. Thorneycroft

A lot would depend on whether they are made in Witney.

Mr. Wade

In order that there should be no misunderstanding in the public mind, is it not correct that the label "Witney" does not signify and never has signified that an article has an all-wool content but merely that it is made in Witney? Secondly, would the right hon. Gentleman agree that, excellent as some Witney blankets may be, blankets of an equally fine quality are manufactured in Yorkshire?

Mr. Thorneycroft

A Witney manufacturer brought a successful case in 1909 which I thought established their position vis-à-vis the Yorkshire manufacturers on the name Witney.

Mr. Bottomley

Does not this policy of the Government indicate how unwise the methods are which permit the public in due course to be misled, and ought he not to consider reintroducing controls?

Mr. Thorneycroft

There is no question of lack of wisdom here. The question is whether I should bring a prosecution, and I see no grounds whatever for doing so.

Miss Ward

Does not the right hon. Gentleman consider that such an inquiry would assist the good blanket manufacturer? Would he occasionally kindly think of women hon. Members who like a little attention paid to some of the things on which they think they have a right to express an opinion and can express an opinion?

Mr. Thorneycroft

This Question is not directed to an inquiry but only as to whether proceedings should be brought.