HC Deb 22 November 1955 vol 546 c1256
41. Mrs. Mann

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he is aware that recommendations and warnings regarding consumer goods are subject to the law of libel, and in consequence the work of the Women's Advisory Council is prejudiced to this extent; and if he will take powers to protect the warnings of this council so that they may in future be freely given without fear of consequential libel actions.

Mr. Walker-Smith

I assume the hon. Member is referring to the Women's Advisory Committee of the British Standards Institution. We are assured by the Institution that the work of the Committee has not been prejudiced by the law of libel.

Mrs. Mann

Do I take it that that means that these women have not a very keen perception of their standards of duty, because everyone knows that the limitations here are quite beyond those imposed on the women of America, who are able to warn women not to buy goods if they are unsatisfactory. Is it not a fact that our women cannot do that because they endanger their friends from the law of libel?

Mr. Walker-Smith

The hon. Lady will appreciate that in order to establish a case for trade libel it is necessary to prove falsehood and malice, as well as damage. That being so, I should not have thought that the women need to be in fear of the law of libel, if they proceed with their customary objectivity and fair-mindedness.