HC Deb 24 May 1960 vol 624 cc211-2
42. Mrs. Slater

asked the Prime Minister if he will appoint a Minister of Consumer Welfare in view of the recommendations of the Interim Report of the Committee on Consumer Protection.

The Prime Minister

I would refer the hon. Member to the Answer given by my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary to my hon. Friend the Member for Carlisle (Dr. D. Johnson) on 10th May.

Mrs. Slater

Is the Prime Minister aware that those Answers have not been very satisfactory, and that they have been even of a delaying character? Does not the right hon. Gentleman agree that in view of the very quickly changing methods in the marketing of goods in this country and the number of Departments over which the control is spread, it is about time that a Minister was designated to deal with the problems of consumer welfare?

The Prime Minister

That is another question. This is a suggestion that a new Minister should be appointed who will have this function. I would have thought that that was not a good administrative method. What I should have thought would be done was that, as often happens when certain functions are spread over more than one Department, a single existing Minister should be made responsible for them, and this was a matter we examined.

Mr. Gaitskell

Does the Prime Minister appreciate that he himself appointed a Minister of Science, with responsibilities covering many different Departments, and even if he does not feel able to accept my hon. Friend's proposal, would he consider making a Minister of State at the Board of Trade responsible for the problems of consumer protection and the appropriate co-ordination?

The Prime Minister

I am afraid I was answering what I believed to be the purpose of the Question—that a new Minister should be appointed. I must say that I prefer, in deciding finally, to work on the principle of giving this power to a Minister and not create a new Minister for that purpose.