HC Deb 14 February 1956 vol 548 cc2141-3
2. Miss Burton

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he is now in a position to give some details concerning the voluntary agreement reached by the laundry organisations, the British Standards Institution and the representatives of his Department on the problem of textile labelling for washing and cleaning purposes; and when he expects to be able to do so.

Mr. P. Thorneycroft

I cannot at present add to the reply I gave to the hon. Lady's Question on 26th January, but I hope to be able to do so shortly.

Miss Burton

Is not the right hon. Gentleman getting very embarrassed at having to make this statement month by month? Does he hope that if I put a Question to him at the end of a month he will be in a less embarrassing position than he is today?

Mr. Thorneycroft

I have represented to those concerned that both the hon. Lady and myself have been embarrassed as a result of these Questions and Answers. I hope to be able to give the hon. Lady a satisfactory answer.

5. Mrs. Mann

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he is aware that ever-increasing quantities of flammable material are being sold for women's and children's dresses and that some of this material ignites on close proximity to fires, radiators, etc., however much these are protected in terms of the Heating Appliances Act; and if he will introduce legislation to ensure that all flammable material, made up or sold by any measurement, shall bear a warning label as to flammability.

Mr. P. Thorneycroft

I share the hon. Lady's concern about the danger of dresses catching fire, but I am not aware that this risk has increased significantly. The problem of what safety measures are appropriate presents a number of difficulties and research is going on into some of these. So far as I can see at present, I doubt whether the solution proposed by the hon. Lady is a practicable one.

Mrs. Mann

If the right hon. Gentleman is hopeful of legislation to label garments according to their washability, is it not much more important that he should ensure that garments which are highly inflammable should be labelled? If the right hon. Gentleman is not convinced, will he allow me to come to his office and bring with me some of these materials, which are now used as bedcovers, and which ignite two feet away from an open flame? Does he not realise that this is a matter of life and death?

Mr. Thorneycroft

I appreciate the seriousness of what the hon. Lady says. Accidents of this kind, sometimes of the most tragic nature, take place. At the same time, this question of labelling with degrees of flammability presents serious practical problems, but I will bear in mind what the hon. Lady has said.

Mrs. McLaughlin

Will my right hon. Friend please give us an assurance that he will continue to do all he can to ensure that materials which are suitable for children's clothing, particularly nightgowns, are definitely guaranteed to have been tested for non-flammability? Is he aware that every year the number of deaths in the home due to burning is very shocking, and that it worries a great many of us? Anything that can be done to increase the safety of materials will be very much appreciated.

Mr. Thorneycroft

I am much obliged to my hon. Friend.