HC Deb 09 July 1973 vol 859 cc1007-8
13. Miss Fookes

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will now take steps to ensure that all pre-packed foods and other goods are sold in prescribed standardised quantities.

Mr. Emery

My right hon. and learned Friend told the hon. Member for Don Valley (Mr. Kelley) on 13th February that the Government add to the list of prepacked foods sold in prescribed quantities whenever we are satisfied that it is desirable to do so.—[Vol. 850, c. 329–30.]

Miss Fookes

Does not my hon. Friend recognise that sale in prescribed standardised quantities is desirable for all such goods, and that we should like to see a little quicker action than we have seen hitherto?

Mr. Emery

We discussed the matter in somewhat greater detail when considering the Weights and Measures (Unit Pricing) Bill only last week, when I think my hon. Friend agreed that certain goods lend themselves to standard packaging and others perhaps to unit pricing. Before we go ahead with standard packaging there needs to be the most extensive consultation with the manufacturers to ensure that cans and packages can be introduced in the manner and with the presentation that my hon. Friend would want. That is continuing.

Mr. Molloy

Is the Minister aware that there must now be abundant evi- dence of the need for new legislation? Will he also consider, in relation both to this Question and to the points raised in Question No. 10, having conversations with the Secretary of State for the Environment to see how local authorities can help, and how they can be assisted in appointing consumer protection officers and setting up consumer protection offices?

Mr. Emery

I do not accept that there is any need for new legislation. The Government are carrying out extensive consultations for consumer protection advice centres to be much more widely spread throughout the country. I hope that that will be welcomed by the Opposition.

Mr. Alan Williams

I am sure the Minister realises that the public are as concerned about the safety of prepacked foods as they are about quantity. Will he, as a matter of urgency, investigate with the Minister of Agriculture the report by the Halesowen Public Health Department and the report "Monitoring of Foodstuff for Heavy Metals", which allege that the lead content of certain canned fruits is five times as high as the statutory limit, and the even more disturbing allegation that certain canned baby foods have an abnormally high lead content?

Mr. Emery

The safety of foods is the responsibility of my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture. I am certain that both he and my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment are only too concerned to ensure that any suggestions that the lead content is dangerous are kept under the closest review, so that such danger is not allowed to occur.

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