HC Deb 15 November 1971 vol 826 cc13-4
13. Mr. David Clark

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what representations he has received from the woollen textile industry concerning the need to replace the expiring origin-marking regulations and what reply he has given.

Mr. Ridley

I received the industry's representations only on 4th November, and before replying I shall consider carefully the arguments they have put forward.

Mr. Clark

Will the Minister make clear that under Section 8 of the Trades Description Act, 1968, he has power to assist on the origin marking of such goods as textiles? Would he, further, look at the undertakings given by previous Ministers to give some protection to the textile industry when the Trade Descriptions Bill is going through?

Mr. Ridley

I must make it abundantly clear that the power to make orders under Section 8 of existing legislation is confined to conditions where it is in the interest of the consumer in the obtaining of value for money, and that is not met by the general proposition put forward by the textile industry. I have to have regard to the law in deciding whether to make orders. Equally, as I said in answer to earlier Questions, we are looking at ways in which to protect the consumer from misdescription.

Mr. Wilkinson

Would my hon. Friend agree that a substantial and assured home market for wool textile products is essential to the long-term, continued prosperity of the industry? While I appreciate very much my hon. Friend's undertaking that he will give Governmental support, if his right hon. and hon. Friends approve it, to my hon. Friend's Bill, the long-term future of the industry is of such vital interest and of such significance to our economy that it deserves Government support, I should have thought.

Mr. Ridley

I should not have expected the future of the wool textile industry to hang on a matter such as this, but I would also say that it is in the best interests of the consumer and of the manufacturers that there should be no doubt as to the origin, if a certain origin is claimed.

Mr. Lomas

Is the Minister aware that the disappearance of the mark of origin will, first of all, facilitate dishonest trading, and, secondly, will allow some kind of deceptive description? Does he not agree that it would be detrimental both to the consumer and to the industry, and that it is imperative that the Government should look at the matter and not leave it to a Private Member's Bill?

Mr. Ridley

As I said in answer to a Question on 19th October, the Government have already undertaken to have consultations with the industries concerned on this very point, but I must emphasise to the House that I am advised that I am not legally able to make orders under the existing legislation in the conditions which have so far been put before me.

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