HC Deb 05 March 1964 vol 690 cc1495-7
7. Mr. J. P. W. Mallalieu

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he is now able to announce plans for the prohibition of the manufacture and sale of nightdresses made of inflammable material.

20. Mr. Swingler

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what progress has now been made in his discussions with trade representatives about inflammable nightwear; and if, in view of the continuing series of accidents, he will now take steps to make the sale of inflammable nightwear unlawful.

40. Mr. Lipton

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he has now decided to take steps to prohibit the sale of nightdresses made of inflammable material.

Mr. Brooke

I would refer the hon. Members to the reply I gave on 3rd March to a Question by my hon. Friend the Member for Coventry, South (Mr. Hocking).

Mr. Mallalieu

Is the Home Secretary aware how unsatisfactory it is to give a written reply to a Question of this importance when a Question for Oral Answer on the subject has been on the Order Paper for five weeks? Will he carry the matter a little further? Will he consider banning not only children's nightdresses which are flammable, but all nightdresses which are flammable? Will be go beyond that to see if steps can be taken to stop the manufacture and sale of all clothing made of flammable material? Will he do all he can to give publicity to the virtues of wearing pyjamas rather than nightdresses by people of all ages?

Mr. Brooke

Without taking sides on the question of pyjamas or nighties, I want the House to know that I am extremely anxious to diminish these terrible fatalities. I am quite sure that if action is to be effective it has to be taken by stages. It is no good forbidding people to buy things if there are no unsatisfactory alternatives on the market. That is why in the first stage I propose to impose statutory requirements on children's nightwear. Later it may be possible to widen the scope of the Regulations to include other forms of nightwear and, maybe, of materials sold in the piece, but we must make this effective and to do so we must act by stages.

Mr. Lipton

Will the regulations provide that nightdresses made of approved materials shall be very clearly labelled to that effect with the possible washing instructions, because certain kinds of washing may diminish the value of the fabrics used? Will he see that these Regulations are brought into effect at the earliest possible moment and also make quite clear that the Regulations can provide only that the materials shall be flame-resistant, not necessarily flameproof?

Mr. Brooke

It is important that warnings should be given to purchasers about methods of washing these materials. That is one of the matters I am considering. I am extremely anxious to have these new Regulations in effect forbidding the sale of children's flammable nightwear before the next winter comes when the danger will increase again.

Mr. Dance

Does my right hon. Friend agree that the Bill introduced yesterday by my hon. Friend the Member for Belfast, West (Mrs. McLaughlin) should go a very long way to help in this very serious matter?

Mr. Brooke

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for the help she has given and the interest she has shown in this matter; but, as I explained earlier, it is absolutely essential before we prohibit other things to make certain that there is an adequate supply of the right type of nightdresses in the shops.