HC Deb 25 February 1970 vol 796 cc1174-5
4. Mr. Molloy

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he is satisfied with the working of the Trade Descriptions Act; and if he will make a statement.

Mrs. Gwyneth Dunwoody

Yes, Sir. I think there is widespread acceptance and observance of the principles of the Act. At the same time, the fact that 800 prosecutions have taken place in the first 14 months shows that the Act is being effectively enforced.

Mr. Molloy

I thank my hon. Friend for that reply and I acknowledge that this Act has been welcomed by housewives and honest traders. Is she satisfied that the system involving local weights and measures authorities is functioning so that they are not hindered in enforcing the Act?

Mrs. Dunwoody

I am happy to tell my hon. Friend that the job being done by the weights and measures authorities and inspectors is excellent. The whole House will join with me, I think, in congratulating them on their efforts to enforce this first attempt at effective means of protecting the consumer in this field, and telling them how grateful we are to them.

Sir G. Nabarro

As the strongest possible supporter of the Statute, may I ask whether the hon. Lady recognises that a responsibility rests on her to warn the public when there are substances injurious to health contained in the products in a packet, and that she should therefore support the printing of health warnings on all packets of cigarettes?

Mrs. Dunwoody

The hon. Member and I have this in common, that between the two of us we shall do all we can to publicise the dangers of smoking. I am sure that one of us is bound to be heard.

37 and 38. Mr. Ashton

asked the President of the Board of Trade (1) whether he will seek to amend the Trade Descriptions Act to compel restaurants which levy a service charge or a selective employment tax extra to publish this on their menus;

(2) whether he will seek to amend the Trade Descriptions Act to make it an offence for traders to levy an extra charge for selective employment tax which more than recoups their costs for selective employment tax.

Mrs. Gwyneth Dunwoody

I do not think it would be advisable to amend the Trade Descriptions Act in these ways.

Mr. Ashton

But does not my hon. Friend remember the statement made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Barnsley (Mr. Mason) just after taking office that it was the best little Act ever introduced by a Labour Government? Should we not seek to remove the loopholes now becoming evident in it?

Mrs. Dunwoody

I wholeheartedly approve of most of the statements made by my right hon. Friend, but in this instance I think we should have a little time to consider the Act and see whther an amendment of this kind is necessary now. It is irritating to buy a meal and be charged more for it than one was told beforehand, but the thing to do is to complain to the restaurateur.

Sir E. Bullus

Would not it be more sensible and helpful to the traders to get ride of the selective employment tax, as the Tories intend to do next year?

Mrs. Dunwoody

What fascinates me in discussion about S.E.T. is that we always hear that hon. Members opposite will do away with it but do not hear what they will put in its place.