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Laundry Zoning Scheme, Oxford

Volume 390: debated on Wednesday 2 June 1943

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36.

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of War Transport whether he will review the Oxford laundry zoning scheme in the light of the complaints received; and whether he will give an undertaking not to introduce similar schemes elsewhere without taking adequate steps to protect and consult the consumer?

My Ministry, together with the Board of Trade; have investigated the small number of complaints about the Oxford laundry zoning scheme which have been received, and have done what they can to remove the causes of complaint. I am glad to inform my hon. and gallant Friend that the scheme has saved at least a third of the transport normally required; that it has other advantages; and that I have received1no evidence of hardship which would justify a general review. I am always ready to consider improvements, but I would remind my hon. and. gallant Friend that there is a special Committee to deal with customers' complaints, and I think their interests are adequately protected. While everything practicable is always done to protect the interests of consumers, I regret that I am unable to give the other undertaking for which my hon. and gallant Friend asks in the last part of his Question.

Is it not a fact that in-the arrangement of this scheme no notice whatever was sent to customers as to what their new laundry would be and that no arrangements were made by the new laundry to call on any customer unless specially summoned? Is it not a fact that this scheme as applied to Oxford was an experiment that it was intended to apply to the rest of the country, and in view of those facts will the hon. Gentleman reconsider his answer?

I think the arrangement for notifying customers might have been better in the first instance, but every possible improvement has been made. Apart from a petition containing a small number of signatures which the hon. Gentleman sent me, only a dozen letters of complaint have been received, which, I think, shows that the scheme is working very well.

Has there not been a public outcry in the Press? I beg to give notice that I will raise this matter again at the earliest opportunity.