HC Deb 02 April 1957 vol 568 cc227-9
40. Mrs. Mann

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he is aware that the practice of overcharging on proportions of food over the 1 lb. mark on the scales does not constitute an offence on which to base a prosecution; and, in view of the constant complaints from weights and measures inspectors regarding this handicap to their work, if he will take steps to end this anomaly,

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade (Mr. F. J. Erroll)

The representations which have been made to the Board of Trade by the county councils and inspectors in connection with the proposed new legislation on weights and measures have included comments on such malpractices. The Department has promised to consider these when preparing the Bill.

Mrs. Mann

Without introducing the recommendations of the Hodgson Report, would the President consider making some regulation or amendment to make it a punishable offence to overcharge when the scales drop over the lb.?

Mr. Erroll

That matter would be considered, but one must remember that weights and measures legislation is designed primarily to deal with weights and measures and not pricing.

Mrs. Braddock

When looking at this matter will the Minister realise that it is a question, to some extent, of definition? Is he aware that in Liverpool at the moment the question is being considered whether a Brazil nut is fresh fruit; that it is a question of definition, and certainly the legislation requires examining again?

Mr. Erroll

I will consider the point which the hon. Lady has made.

Mr. Speaker

Mrs. Mann. Question No. 41.

41. Mrs. Mann

asked the President of the Board of Trade what representations he has received from county councils and inspectors of weights and measures regarding malpractices in weighing out butcher-meat, fish, and similar goods; and what reply he has sent.

Mr. Erroll

I had intended to answer this Question and Question No. 40 together. I am sorry if I did not make that clear when I read out the Answer.

Mrs. Mann

If they have both been answered together, may I revert to Question No. 40 for my supplementary question?

Is there not something exceedingly wrong about the fact that if a housewife purchases a lb. of butcher's meat, or any other commodity, and the scale indicates 2 oz. more, and that 2 oz. is overcharged, there is no remedy and no prosecution can follow?

Mr. Erroll

It is possible in certain circumstances for overcharging to be an offence when it is an act calculated to mislead as to the weight or measure. The provision is contained in Section 3 of the Sale of Food (Weights and Measures) Act. 1926.