HC Deb 28 October 1987 vol 121 c288
7. Mr. Madden

asked the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what action is being taken about false labelling of textiles, especially the overstatement of wool content in garments; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Maude

The European Commission has been investigating this matter and I understand that its findings will soon be published. Local authorities are responsible for the enforcement of fibre content regulations in the United Kingdom, and last year they were advised by my Department about the concerns expressed by the hon. Gentleman.

Mr. Madden

When will the Government take some effective action to stop overseas textile producers, especially the Italians, ripping off British textile consumers in the blatant way that they have been doing for years? Does he realise that ministerial huffing and puffing, ministerial stiff notes and ministerial wrist slapping mean nothing at all to Common Market crooks who are making a fortune out of placing false labels on textile products? When will he do something to stop that racket?

Mr. Maude

I note what the hon. Gentleman says. However, we must consider how the regulations brought into force by Parliament are enforced. The West Yorkshire county council has brought a number of successful prosecutions. There have been 351 prosecutions nationwide under the regulations since 1978 and no fewer than 182 in West Yorkshire.

Mr. Nicholas Winterton

Does my hon. Friend accept that by the time the procedures that we operate are carried through, the damage is done? Does he also accept that part of the problem lies with the European Community, which prevailed upon us to alter what was hitherto very adequate labelling legislation?

Mr. Maude

The change to which my hon. Friend referred has no impact on this area. People who misdescribe goods will still be subject to prosecution under the Trade Descriptions Act 1968. That is the most effective way to stamp out that objectionable practice.

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