HC Deb 25 July 1963 vol 681 cc1763-4
26. Mrs. Butler

asked the President of the Board of Trade what proposals the Consumer Council has for considering consumer difficulties in the standard and supply of school uniforms.

Mr. Erroll

The Consumer Council is an independent grant-aided body. I suggest that the hon. Member might approach the Council direct.

Mrs. Butler

Does not the right hon. Gentleman appreciate that at least reputable manufacturers and traders and practical educationists are all agreed on the need for a national campaign on this continually irritating problem of highly priced poor quality school uniforms which is aggravated by the practice of many schools giving a monopoly of supplies to one particular shop? Since the Minister of Education has washed his hands of this subject, would the right hon. Gentleman use his influence to persuade the Consumer Council to put this subject on its priority list?

Mr. Erroll

The Consumer Council is an independent body and it would be wrong for me to influence it in any direction. However, I am sure that the chairman will take note of the hon. Lady's supplementary question and the hon. Lady herself might care to supplement it direct in a letter to the chairman of the Council.

Mr. Darling

Can the right hon. Gentleman say when he hopes to complete appointments to the Consumer Council? Is he aware—and I hope that he will correct me on this if I am wrong—that at the moment the Consumer Council does not have adequate offices in which to work?

Mr. Erroll

Appointments to the Consumer Council have been completed and the last was announced a few days ago. The Council has office accommodation at present.

Mr. Lipton

Can the right hon. Gentleman say, without giving any directions to the Consumer Council itself, whether it is within its competence to examine to what extent, if at all, arrangements exist between certain schools and certain traders as a result of which the parents of children who need new school uniforms have to pay through the nose?

Mr. Erroll

A study of the standard and supply of school uniforms is certainly within the competence of the Council.