HC Deb 12 November 1953 vol 520 cc1119-21
12. Mrs. Castle

asked the President of the Board of Trade what progress has been made with the establishment of a range of British Standards (Utility Series) specifications for cotton cloths and household textiles as promised in his speech to the House of 13th March, 1952.

Mr. P. Thorneycroft

A standard for tickings for domestic bedding was published on 6th October. Apart from this, the cotton industry has not found it possible to devise agreed standards based on utility specifications as originally proposed. A statement was issued by the British Standards Institution in July last reviewing progress to that date over the whole field of textiles.

Mrs. Castle

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that this is a scandalous betrayal of a promise he most specifically made in this House on 13th March, 1952, when he stated: In particular, the cotton industry have told me that they propose within a few weeks to deal in this way with the most popular specifications, which cover a wide range of cotton cloths and household textiles up to about 75 per cent. of the trade in those particular types."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 13th March, 1952; Vol. 497, c. 1584.] Is he aware that it was on that assurance that the House agreed to the withdrawal of the Utility Scheme? Is it not scandalous that the cotton industry and the right hon. Gentleman should in this way betray both the House and the country?

Mr. Thorneycroft

It was, of course, on that assurance by the industry that I made that statement. I quite agree with the hon. Lady that the cotton industry have fallen far short of what they said on that occasion, and I am making representations to them to that effect.

15. Miss Barton

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.

Mr. P. Thorneycroft

As the hon. Lady was told in reply to her Question on 14th July last, I am aware of the regulations to which she refers. As regards the second part of the Question, the British Standards Institution has recently issued a glossary of terms, indicating the composition of cloths containing wool. This has been prepared by all the trade interests concerned and the Women's Advisory Committee of the B.S.I., and is likely to be widely adopted. I believe it will prove useful to consumers, and in the circumstances I see no reason for recommending any other system.

Miss Burton

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that by the next time his turn comes for Oral Questions, I shall have several examples to give him showing that this glossary is not detailed enough? Would he not agree—presumably, he goes shopping sometimes—that it makes a difference whether a material is 90 per cent. wool or 50 per cent., since the glossary does not cover the gap in between? Furthermore, does it make no difference to him whether the material is 15 per cent. or 49 per cent. wool, because that gap also is not covered? Does he not think that it might with advantage be more detailed?

Mr. Thorneycroft

The Question addressed to me was whether I will introduce compulsory marking schemes comparable with those adopted in some other countries, and the answer to that must be "No."

Mr. Burden

Is my right hon. Friend aware that these new markings will come into the shops when the new wool deliveries are made? Is he also aware that the measures taken by this Government are a considerable improvement upon those of the last Government, when cloth was described as wool if it contained only 15 per cent. of wool?