HC Deb 14 June 1967 vol 748 cc535-6
18. Mr. Robert Howarth

asked the President of the Board of Trade if his Department will prosecute those who contravene the Merchandise Marks Act, 1926, by falsely labelling imported textile goods until such time as the proposed Protection of Consumers (Trades Descriptions) Bill becomes law and protects consumers by demanding accurate and comprehensive labelling.

Mr. Darling

The Board of Trade is ready to consider any complaints that goods have been misdescribed contrary to the Merchandise Marks Act and, in appropriate cases, to investigate with a view to prosecution.

Mr. Howarth

I thank my right hon. Friend for that reply, but I remain a little puzzled. Is he aware that the Retail Trading Standards Association claims to undertake many prosecutions under the Merchandise Marks Act but, because of its limited financial resources, is not able to investigate a great number of contraventions? Could not the Board of Trade take over the prosecution of people who are at present getting away with deluding the public?

Mr. Darling

Under the Merchandise Marks Act, anyone may prosecute, and the Retail Trading Standards Association has been extremely vigilant and useful in this regard. I have discussed the matter which my hon. Friend raises with the director of the Association, and we are both aware that the Bill which we have in mind, the Protection of Consumers Bill, will lead to the satisfactory conclusion which all of us want.

Mr. Bellenger

When is the new Bill likely to be introduced in this House?

Mr. Darling

That question should be directed to other quarters.

Mr. Patrick Jenkin

As the Bill was announced in the Queen's Speech of 1964, is it not time we had it?

Mr. Darling

The hon. Gentleman has not kept up to date. It was introduced in another place, and it went through another place. We are now waiting to introduce it again in this place.