HC Deb 30 June 1960 vol 625 cc1540-1
22. Mr. F. Noel-Baker

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will make regulations under appropriate Acts to ensure that accurate measures of the contents, and where practicable a statement of ingredients, are clearly marked on the containers of soap powders, detergents, and similar consumer goods.

Mr. Maudling

I have no power to make such regulations but I am considering the inclusion of proposals about the marking of soap and detergent containers with the amount of the contents in the new Weights and Measures Bill.

Mr. Noel-Baker

I thank the right hon. Gentleman for that Answer. Has he considered the fact that modern point of sale design techniques make it very easy to produce extremely misleading packages and that the housewife has no means of knowing whether the giant packet of soap powder has in it more or less than the ordinary one?

Mr. Maudling

That is a very interesting point and in framing the Weights and Measures Bill it is the sort of thing that we have in mind, but I cannot prejudge exactly what will be done about it.

Mrs. Braddock

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that most of these packets are filled by machinery and that the weight is known when it is put into the packet, but that very few of the packets are full when they reach the consumer? If the weight were put upon the packets when they were being filled, it would be of very great assistance to the housewife in enabling her to know that she was not being diddled.

Mr. Maudling

I have precisely that sort of consideration in mind.

Mr. Gresham Cooke

Could not we have the price put on these packets, because when one looks at one and sees "3d. off", one never knows what price the threepence is off?

Mr. Maudling

That is a question that I have often wondered about myself and have wanted an answer to, but I have not known to whom to put down a Question.

Mrs. Slater

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the Co-operative movement already puts the weight of the contents on its packets? If the Co-operative movement can do it, so that the housewife knows how much she has bought for so much cash, is there any reason why other firms cannot do the same? Can the right hon. Gentleman say how long he thinks it will be before the Weights and Measures Bill is introduced?

Mr. Maudling

I cannot comment on the competitive position of the Co-operative movement in these matters. I think that should be left to the consumer. As I have said, the Weights and Measures Bill is nearly ready and I hope very much that it will be introduced in the next Session.

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