HC Deb 26 March 1973 vol 853 cc908-10
19. Mr. David Watkins

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what proposals he is putting to other Common Market countries with a view to introducing legislation to make it compulsory for the drained weight of foods canned in liquid to be marked on the cans.

Mr. Emery

My Department has not yet completed its detailed examination of the drained weight problem; therefore no proposals have been made.

Mr. Watkins

I am grateful to the Minister for that reply. Does he agree that legislation is desirable? If so, should not this country be taking a strong initiative in view of the growing volume of international complaint?

Mr. Emery

I consider that drained weight is a problem, but the Codex Alimentaris Commission looked into this matter and brought forward recommendations in 1970 which European Governments considered to be impossible to implement. The matter is still being looked at and we are taking a leading rôle in that consideration.

Miss Fookes

Will my hon. Friend explain why his Department is so incredibly slow?

Mr. Emery

As these matters have been looked at internationally over many years and no sensible solution has been reached, perhaps the fault does not lie only with my Department.

Mrs. Sally Oppenheim

Will my hon. Friend accept from me that housewives do not want to open a tin of peaches brought for the family supper only to find a single peach alone and palely loitering in a tinful of syrup?

Mr. Emery

Neither does my family. What we are trying to ensure is that the weight loss due to moisture content of the fruit after canning can be properly assessed.

Mr. Alan Williams

Will the Minister answer the question which he refused to answer six weeks ago and explain what action the Government are taking to ensure that manufacturers do not defeat the prices policy simply by reducing the drained weight of the contents of canned foods?

Mr. Emery

As the hon. Gentleman knows, the situation in this country is fairly well taken care of and the problem arises only with imported canned food. We do not believe that the allegations that have been made by the hon. Gentleman about British producers are correct, and I hope that he will withdraw them.