§ Mr. Peter Mills
asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will make a statement on his proposals for replacement of the existing Origin Marking Orders which expire under the Trade Descriptions Act, 1968, on 30th November, 1971.
§ Mr. Tom Boardman
asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, if he will make a statement on his proposals for replacement of the existing Origin Marking Orders which expire under the Trade Descriptions Act, 1968, on 30th November, 1971.
§ Mr. Ridley
Existing origin marking Orders in respect of food and other goods will, under the terms of the Trade Descriptions Act, 1968, no longer be effective after 29th November, 1971. The Act gives power to impose new marking requirements—as to origin or any other form of information relating to goods—but this power is only exercisable where it is considered that provision of the information is necessary or expedient in the interests of persons to whom such goods are supplied.
The basic test applied in judging proposals for marking Orders is therefore whether, in the particular case, the information would give the potential purchaser reliable guidance in the selection of the goods best suited to his needs. On that basis, my right hon. Friend, the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, and I have now decided that formal consultations, as required by the Trade Descriptions Act, should be initiated with a view to making new origin marking Orders in respect of apples, tomatoes, cucumbers, meat, poultry, bacon and ham, eggs in shell, honey and butter.
I recognise that it may well not be practicable for new Orders to become effective on 30th November, but our aim is to make them as soon as the prescribed consultations and the drafting can be completed.
For various types of consumer goods other than food in respect of which I have considered proposals for origin marking, I have not found that, on the same basis, an Order would be justified by the facts and arguments advanced. I 105W am still considering other proposals and certain further representations.
It has, however, been suggested that the provisions of the Trade Descriptions Act against false indications of origin—which apply to all goods and not merely to those in respect of which marking Orders now exist—may not be wide enough to ensure that the consumer is not misled into supposing that imported goods are in fact British, in the absence of a direct statement of origin. I am arranging for further discussions of this problem with interested parties.
In the meantime, I believe that a case may be made out for origin marking in some fields where adequate after sales servicing and spare parts facilities are of especial significance and the consumer should consequently be warned of particular need to enquire about their availability. In other fields I am considering the desirability of marking Orders requiring the goods to be labelled with other forms of information—for example, as to their composition, construction, or performance. In some such cases I expect formal consultations to be initiated in the near future; in others, further preliminary study will be required before we reach that stage.