HC Deb 08 November 1982 vol 31 cc302-3
11. Mr. Marlow

asked the Minister for Trade whether he will introduce further measures to encourage the purchase of British goods, with particular reference to origin marking.

Dr. Vaughan

I am very keen that people should recognise British products of quality and be able to buy them. I have no plans for the moment to extend the present origin marking requirements.

Mr. Marlow

Will my hon. Friend take this opportunity to tell the British people about the great benefits of buying British goods, particularly footwear, clothing, electrical goods and so on, in that that increases the amount of work that is available to our people and thus reduces the amount of tax that the Chancellor of the Exchequer has to levy? Will my hon. Friend do all that he can to assist in any campaign that may be mounted to increase the "Buy British" campaign?

Dr. Vaughan

Yes, Sir. Free international trade is in our national interest and is also in the interest of British consumers. However, we should stop playing down the quality of British goods and playing up imported goods, irrespective of their quality. That is what the "Think British" campaign is all about.

Mr. Cryer

Does the Minister accept that it is highly misleading when textile garments, for example, are made up in this country from imported cloth and are marked "Made in the United Kingdom", according to the regulations that the Minister's Department laid before Parliament? Should not the Government consider, as a matter of urgency, origin marking that makes it clear from where the cloth and garments originate?

Dr. Vaughan

I have carefully reviewed the earlier decision on that, which was discussed when the order was debated on 1 April, but I shall be happy to look at it again.

Mr. Waller

May I press my hon. Friend on the point that the hon. Member for Keighley (Mr. Cryer) has made? Is my hon. Friend aware that research shows that the consumer believes that when he buys an article of clothing labelled "British made", it has been woven in this country and not just made up here? In view of the criticism that there has been of the EEC Commission's proposals on origin labelling, will my hon. Friend have a further look at how the consumers' interests can be strengthened by pressing for a more rigorous regime?

Dr. Vaughan

I am happy to do that. It is essential that when people buy goods they should know where they come from. That applies to goods coming into Britain and also to British goods going overseas. "Made in Britain" is a mark of quality around the world. We need to remember that more often here in Britain.

Mr. John Fraser

Does the Minister recognise that we could do with a bit more patriotism about jobs for British workers? Will he deprecate the practice of multinational car manufacturers putting cars on the British market that give the impression that they have been made in Britain, whereas they have been made in Spain, Belgium or France? Can the Trade Descriptions Act be enforced more rigorously so that there is a prominent description at the point of sale that shows that the goods—whether they are cars or anything else—have been made abroad, if that is the case?

Dr. Vaughan

The hon. Gentleman need not chide us about lack of awareness of unemployment. We are taking every step that we can to increase the production of British goods. We have already taken steps to free the supply of car parts. That is an important step.

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