Merchandise Marks (Trade Descriptions)

Oral Answers to Questions — Trade and Commerce – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 6th July 1954.

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Photo of Miss Elaine Burton Miss Elaine Burton , Coventry South 12:00 am, 6th July 1954

asked the President of the Board of Trade what reply he has sent to the letter recently received from the Principal of the Leathersellers' College admitting that he had made a mistake and that the gauntlets of the gloves submitted to him by his Department for expert examination were of sheepskin and not of hide.

Photo of Mr Henry Strauss Mr Henry Strauss , Norwich South

The letter has been acknowledged.

Photo of Miss Elaine Burton Miss Elaine Burton , Coventry South

Is the Parliamentary Secretary aware that the industry concerned is watching this matter with very great interest? Is he now informing the House that it is still the considered opinion of his Department that where gloves are advertised as being made wholly of hide, and where the experts of the industry and the experts of the Government agree that the gauntlets are made of sheepskin, there is no material false description?

Photo of Mr Henry Strauss Mr Henry Strauss , Norwich South

On the particular case and on the desirability of prosecution I have nothing to add to previous answers, the last of which was given on 17th June.

Photo of Miss Elaine Burton Miss Elaine Burton , Coventry South

Is the Parliamentary Secretary telling the House that, under the Merchandise Marks Act as it is at present, it is not a false description to misdescribe the quality of goods?

Photo of Mr Henry Strauss Mr Henry Strauss , Norwich South

I am not saying anything of the kind.

Photo of Mr Charles Hale Mr Charles Hale , Oldham West

Is this not a clear case of Doctor Sheepskin and Mr. Hyde?

Photo of Miss Elaine Burton Miss Elaine Burton , Coventry South

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he has now reached a decision concerning the initiation of a prosecution against the manufacturers of Argyll double knitting wool labelled as containing wool and nylon.

Photo of Mr Henry Strauss Mr Henry Strauss , Norwich South

Yes, Sir. The Board of Trade have commenced proceedings in this case.

Photo of Miss Elaine Burton Miss Elaine Burton , Coventry South

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that the Merchandise Marks Acts have now been shown to be inadequate for the initiation of prosecutions in so far as false trade descriptions are concerned; and whether he will consider such amendment as may be necessary.

Photo of Mr Henry Strauss Mr Henry Strauss , Norwich South

The answer to the first part of the Question is "No, Sir." The second part therefore does not arise.

Photo of Miss Elaine Burton Miss Elaine Burton , Coventry South

Is the Parliamentary Secretary prepared to consider receiving a deputation from the trade associations if they consider that such amendment is necessary?

Photo of Mr Henry Strauss Mr Henry Strauss , Norwich South

I shall certainly consider any request made to me by any hon. Member on the subject of a deputation, but I would not like to commit myself until I have seen the request.

Photo of Mr Charles Hale Mr Charles Hale , Oldham West

asked the President of the Board of Trade how many prosecutions for offences against the Merchandise Marks Acts have been brought by his Department in the last 12 months to the most recent convenient date: and with what result.

Photo of Mr Henry Strauss Mr Henry Strauss , Norwich South

Three, Sir, in the year ending 5th July, 1954. One case now awaits trial. Convictions were obtained in the other two.

Photo of Mr Charles Hale Mr Charles Hale , Oldham West

Is not this a case of the Board being in labour and producing a splinter? Would the Minister consider the wholly unsatisfactory situation arising from the administration of this Act, which means that the Board of Trade lays down the standard, the Board of Trade has to decide whether the standard has been infringed and the Board of Trade brings the case? Would it not be better to hand this matter over to the Director of Public Prosecutions and have an independent public investigation of the many cases which are being brought of breaches of this Act?

Photo of Mr Henry Strauss Mr Henry Strauss , Norwich South

The hon. Member is wrong in his facts. Anyone can prosecute under the Act. As regards his implication that there are fewer prosecutions under the present Administration, I may point out that there were only two in the whole period of office of the late Government.