Consumer Protection

Oral Answers to Questions — Trade and Commerce – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 29th January 1959.

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Photo of Miss Elaine Burton Miss Elaine Burton , Coventry South 12:00 am, 29th January 1959

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that the Advisory Council on Standards for Consumer Goods, sponsored by the British Standards Institution and in receipt of Government grant, has recommended the establishment of an independent national body representing every aspect of consumer interest; and if he will make a statement concerning the attitude of Her Majesty's Government towards such a recommendation.

Photo of Mr David Eccles Mr David Eccles , Chippenham

The British Standards Institution asked the Board of Trade to consider the proposal made by the Consumer Advisory Council. I am considering this important matter in conjunction with other more general problems of protection of the consumer and hope to make a statement shortly.

Photo of Miss Elaine Burton Miss Elaine Burton , Coventry South

That is a much more forthcoming Answer than I expected. Can the President of the Board of Trade give the House any idea as to when he may be able to make a further statement on the matter?

Photo of Mr David Eccles Mr David Eccles , Chippenham

I hope that it will not be too long, because I think that this is an important matter that now wants pulling together.

Photo of Miss Elaine Burton Miss Elaine Burton , Coventry South

asked the President of the Board of Trade, in view of the fact that deadlock has been reached between the British Standards Institution and manufacturers, following all reasonable negotiation, whether Her Majesty's Government will now consider legislation on a consumer standard.

Photo of Mr David Eccles Mr David Eccles , Chippenham

If the hon. Lady is referring to negotiations for a new British Standard for children's footwear, I can say that discussions with footwear manufacturers on standards for certain components for children's shoes are being renewed. I hope that they will be successful.

Photo of Miss Elaine Burton Miss Elaine Burton , Coventry South

But is the right hon. Gentleman aware that we raised the Shatter from this side of the House about four and a half years ago? Is he further aware that the last issue of Shoppers' Guide showed that more than one-third of the replies received to the questionnaire on children's shoes reflected dissatisfaction? Does not he think that something should be done speedily in the matter?

Photo of Mr David Eccles Mr David Eccles , Chippenham

I looked at the replies to that questionnaire, and saw that 89 per cent, of the people who answered said that they would buy the same make of children's shoes again. On the whole, I thought that a fairly satisfactory answer. It has not been easy to get any likely success in regard to a standard for shoes as a whole, but I am told that if we proceed now by getting standards for components—such as soling and so on— we may get somewhere.

Photo of Miss Elaine Burton Miss Elaine Burton , Coventry South

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. May I ask you if I would be in order in saying that the return showed that 37 per cent, were dissatisfied with children's shoes? I think that the Minister's statement really did not show that.

Photo of Mr William Morrison Mr William Morrison , Cirencester and Tewkesbury

I am afraid not. It is not a question that I could possibly answer. Mr. Swingler.