HC Deb 05 June 1972 vol 838 cc10-2
14. Miss Fookes

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will take steps, under the Weights and Measures Act, 1963, to ensure that talcum and face powders are sold in prescribed quantities.

Mr. Onslow

These powders vary so much in density, composition, quality, price and performance, that I doubt whether in general it would be helpful to the average purchaser.

Miss Fookes

Will my hon. Friend take note that I think it high time that we had a woman at the Department of Trade and Industry, who would give more practical answers than that?

Mr. Onslow

I am always obliged to my hon. Friend for her advice and I am sure that my right hon. Friend will have taken due note. But it remains a fact that the proposition she makes would be of little help to consumers, male or female.

Mr. Dalyell

On what criterion does the Department of Aerospace weigh the performance of talcum powders?

Mr. Onslow

My Department is responsible for answering Questions on this subject because of its overall responsibility for standards, weights and measures. If the hon. Gentleman is asking for a personal view on this matter, I should be happy to talk to him outside.

Sir G. Nabarro

Is my hon. Friend aware that an earlier supplementary question referred to practical help? Is it not a fact that practical help given by the present Government has been to reduce purchase tax on all cosmetics from 55 per cent. to 25 per cent. and that this is aiding millions of female consumers?

Mr. Onslow

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for pointing that out.

Mr. Alan Williams

Does not the hon. Gentleman realise that the Government have been guilty of gross failure in consumer protection and that their disinterest in unit packaging is one more demonstration of that fact? Will he tell us when or whether the Government intend to implement the recommendations made by Crowther on consumer protection well over a year ago?

Mr. Onslow

The latter part of the hon. Gentleman's supplementary question does not arise out of the Question on the Order Paper. He must await a statement on that matter. In making the allegation in the first part of his supplementary question, he is ignorant of the facts. It is the present law that any package of talcum or face powder weighing 12 grammes or more must be marked with the net weight. If a package is not so marked, it must weigh less than 12 grammes, which, as the hon. Gentleman knows, is slightly over one-third of an ounce.