§ 17. Mrs. Mann
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he will make a statement on the proposed amendments to the Food and Drugs Act stipulating net weights on packet foods, vegetables and fruits, which were sent to interested organisations by him 14 months ago.
§ The Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade (Mr. John Rodgers)
As I explained in answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Test (Mr. J. Howard) on 19th February, my right hon. Friend has arranged for a social survey to ascertain the habits and needs of consumers in this field. In the light of this survey he will decide whether to proceed direct to a Bill covering the whole weights and measures field or to make regulations under the Board's present limited powers.
§ Mrs. Mann
Is the hon. Member aware that this is the biggest sell-out of women's organisations that the Government have indulged in? It is fourteen months since every women's organisation was promised these new regulations stipulating the net weight on the packet. All those with whom I have been in touch approved of this proposal. Are we now to understand that it is a complete breach of promise?
§ Mr. J. Rodgers
There has been no complete breach of faith—[HON. MEMBERS: "Breach of promise."]—or breach of promise. The evidence given by consumer organisations to the Hodgson Committee and subsequently to the Board of Trade is valuable, and we are grateful for it. As the hon. Member knows, my right hon. Friend is anxious to bring up to date the law on weights and measures and to ensure adequate consumer protection, but because of the effects on cost it is not in the consumers' interest to have legislation which disregards practical difficulties. I am sure that no housewife would thank the hon. Lady if the result of her intervention were an increase in prices.