HC Deb 26 January 1956 vol 548 cc339-40
5. Miss Barton

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.

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

I am informed that the terms of this agreement are still under discussion, though good progress has been made since the hon. Lady last asked a Question on this subject.

Miss Burton

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that I am very pleased to hear that some progress is being made after all these years? Does he hope that if I put down a Question in two or three weeks time, we may have reached the ultimate goal of this discussion?

Mr. Thorneycroft

While not giving any undertaking about that, I think that the hon. Lady's Questions and my replies are helping to speed it along.

Mr. Bottomley

Can the Minister say what is holding up the settlement?

Mr. Thorneycroft

It is only the drafting of fairly complicated arrangements involving quite a number of persons. Arriving at a voluntary agreement does take a little time.

6. Miss Burton

asked the President of the Board of Trade what progress has been made by the rayon industry in confirmation of their assurance to him that rayon cloths satisfying tests of shrink resistance and colour fastness would be marked for convenience of shoppers as stated by him to the House on 12th November, 1953.

Mr. P. Thorneycroft

In addition to the performance standards referred to in my answer of 12th November, 1953, a British Standard has been agreed and published for the construction of certain warp-knitted cloths.

Miss Burton

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that I asked him what the rayon industry had done in confirmation of its pledge to him? Is he further aware that although he gave that pledge to the House in all good faith, it has not been honoured? What steps does he propose to take to see that it is honoured?

Mr. Thorneycroft

I am aware of those facts, but the circumstances in which I was given an undertaking by the rayon industry—which was not kept by it—have been debated and explained, or at least analysed, upon a number of occasions. I do not think I can add anything further.

Miss Burton

I accept what the right hon. Gentleman says, and I know that he gave the undertaking in good faith, but what happens to the consumer? Good faith does not produce good materials. Is the President just to let the matter go at that?

Mr. Thorneycroft

It is not part of the Government's policy to introduce a system of compulsory labelling.