HC Deb 13 November 1958 vol 595 cc542-3
11. Miss Burton

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he is now in a position to state the date when he will be introducing, as an interim measure, regulations under existing legislation pending a new Weights and Measures Bill.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade (Mr. John Rodgers)

I would refer the hon. Lady to the answer I gave to Questions on this subject on 6th November.

Miss Burton

The Parliamentary Secretary might have referred to 12th June last, when I had just the same Answer. Does the hon. Gentleman not recollect that, as long ago as 21st May last, the then Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade was reported as saying that the Government had been waiting for some years for Parliamentary time to bring forward a new Weights and Measures Bill? Will the hon. Gentleman explain to the House what it is that has made it quite impossible, over the past seven years, to bring forward a Bill dealing with the interests of the consumer?

Mr. Rodgers

I realise the interest which the hon. Lady and hon. Members on both sides of the House have shown in this subject, but the proposed regulations raise very complicated questions. The distribution of food itself is varied and complex, and ill-considered weights and measures requirements might increase the cost of food. The Board of Trade, therefore, wishes to be satisfied that it is fully informed on the matter before making regulations, even if this does involve some delay. I am sure that the hon. Lady, on reconsideration, will agree with that.

Mr. Jay

Is the Parliamentary Secretary aware that about six months ago the President of the Board of Trade himself gave one of his hints, saying that there would he a Bill of this kind in the present Session, and is not this about the only one of the right hon. Gentleman's indiscretions which has turned out to be unfounded?

Mr. Rodgers

Far from it being an indiscretion, I am sure that my right hon. Friend is very disappointed that the Parliamentary time is not available.