HC Deb 14 July 1953 vol 517 cc1878-80
16. Miss Burton

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that, as from 5th September, 1953, textile and apparel imports into Australia containing less than 95 per cent. but more than 5 per cent. wool, must be labelled so that the percentage of wool is shown together with the names of other fibres in order of dominance; and, in view of the fact that this information is demanded also by the United States of America and South Africa and has to be supplied by exporters in this country, whether he will recommend similar information being available for British shoppers.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade (Mr. Henry Strauss)

I am aware of the regulations to which the hon. Lady refers. As regards the second part of her Question, I would ask her to await the forthcoming announcement by the British Standards Institution to which I referred on 7th July.

Miss Burton

Is the hon. and learned Gentleman aware that we have been awaiting this information for a very long time? Is he also aware that the shoppers and the retail trade have repeatedly asked for it? Why is it that the Government do not believe that the shoppers should know what is in the goods that they are buying?

Mr. Strauss

The utility of the reform for which the hon. Lady has frequently pleaded is a matter on which different opinions are held. It would be in the interests of everybody to await the forthcoming statement by the British Standards Institution. I do not think the hon. Lady will have to wait much longer.

23. Mrs. Mann

asked the President of the Board of Trade what steps he is taking in conjunction with the British Standards Institution to raise the standard of the materials in gentleman's suits, flannel trousers, and sports jackets which now become threadbare after six months' wear.

Mr. H. Strauss

The British Standards Institution expects soon to make an announcement about standard descriptions of wool cloth, and progress should then be possible in the difficult task of devising standards of performance. The Institution has already started work on such a standard for cloth for boys' knickers.

Mrs. Mann

Could the hon. Gentleman say if a start will be made first with gents' clothing, because it is very important that the breadwinner's clothing should wear substantially well?

Mr. Strauss

I think that at the moment boys' knickers have the priority.

Mr. Boardman

Would the Minister agree that in such cases where there might be legitimate complaint against British goods, such complaints might be more appropriately dealt with elsewhere, and would he not agree that the crying of stinking fish in this House cannot possibly help the sale of British goods abroad?

Mr. Strauss

I have great sympathy with the desire that prompted the supplementary question; I think it would be unfortunate if the impression were given, either in this House or outside, that British goods generally were not of good quality.

25. Miss Burton

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that at the annual conference of the International Wool Textile Organisation in Lisbon last month it was proposed that in all countries the percentage of non-wool fibres, in textile fabrics should be declared; that the leader of the British delegation spoke against this proposal, in view of the work being done by the British Standards Institution in this field; and what is the policy of Her Majesty's Government on this question.

Mr. H. Strauss

This conference had no Government representatives but, according to my information, its proceedings are not accurately described in the hon. Member's Question. The policy of Her Majesty's Government in this matter is to encourage trade and industry to work out their own standards of quality in conjunction with the British Standards Institution.

Miss Burton

While being sorry if the information in the Question is not correct, might I ask the Minister if he is aware that many countries are in favour of non-wool fibres in textile fabrics being declared? Why have the Government of this country steadfastly set their face against this being done?

Mr. Strauss

It would be wrong for me to comment on the wisdom of legislation in other countries. As regards the position in this country I would ask the hon. Member to await the statement to which I have previously referred.