§ 5.30 p.m.
§ LORD JACQUES
My Lords, I beg to move the Motion standing in my name on the Order Paper.
Moved, That the Draft Weights and Measures Act 1963 (Dentifrices) Order 1974, laid before the House on April 10 be approved.—(Lord Jacques.)
§ LORD ELTON
My Lords, I do not wish to delay the House, but there is one point I wish to raise. Although the content of the Order is perfectly unexceptionable, 678 and accepted by the trade, the date on which it becomes operative is a matter of some concern which has been voiced by the trade association, the Toilet Preparations Federation. What I understand has happened is that the wheels of inquiry and consultation were put in motion as long ago as February, 1973. As we all know, these wheels were stopped in their rotation for a while by the General Election. When they moved forward again, the date of publication was delayed, obviously, but the date of operation was not. I know the trade association has been consulted, but I should like your Lordships to consider the position of the small manufacturer who has a warehouseful or a roomful of toothpaste in tubes not complying with this Order, sufficient to keep him going until September. He then finds that on July 1 he has to comply with the Order. He is faced with the alternative of either scrapping them or of undertaking the very fiddly, time-consuming and therefore expensive operation of re-labelling all the tubes in his stock. I submit it would have been easier for the Secretary of State to have altered three words on the Instrument than for the manufacturer to stick tens of thousands of pieces of sticky paper on to tens of thousands of toothpaste tubes. This may seem humorous and trivial, but to some it is a matter of considerable and vexacious annoyance.
My Lords, I do not wish to delay the House any further, but I wish to draw the attention of the Minister to this and to ask that longer notice should be given in future between publication and effect, not between discussion, because not everyone is involved in discussion, but between publication and bringing into effect.
§ LORD JACQUES
My Lords, formal consultations took place as long ago as February, 1973, and the trade were aware of our intentions to bring the Order into effect as soon as possible. Therefore, they had ample warning of the proposed changes. The major manufacturers are already making a declaration of contents in cubic centimetres. Although there has been some resistance to a quick changeover at retail level, principally from the co-operative societies and Tesco, the Department has given adequate assurances.
§ On Question, Motion agreed to.