HC Deb 05 March 1973 vol 852 cc17-8
18. Mr. David Watkins

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what consultations he is having with other countries with a view to introducing legislation to make it compulsory for the drained weight of foods canned in liquid and sold in the United Kingdom to be marked on the cans.

Sir G. Howe

This problem is being explored internationally in Codex, which comes under the Food and Agriculture Organisation and the World Health Organisation. We are also in touch with our colleagues in the Community.

Mr. Watkins

Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman accept that overseas exporters must accept whatever standards are laid down in this country for the sale of foodstuffs and that there ought not to be any barrier to legislation being introduced on this subject? Does he not feel on reflection that it was a little absurd for the Under-Secretary to have told me as he did on 12th February that legislation or regulations might have a deleterious effect on the consumer?

Sir G. Howe

The hon. Member must realise that this is a difficult practical problem to solve. Several countries have laws which go some way towards solving it but they all depend upon the effectiveness of the control systems that can be established. I do not think it will be possible for us to deal with this unilaterally by imposing obligations on exporters to this country. It certainly is something which I regard as having to be solved if possible but it is not as easy as the hon. Member's natural interest in the subject suggests.