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Advertising And Packaging

Volume 893: debated on Monday 16 June 1975

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asked the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection what study she has made of the amount spent on advertising and packaging goods, and their respective contribution to prices; if she will take steps designed to reduce advertising and packaging expenditures; and if she will make a statement.

Estimated expenditure on media advertising was £870 million in 1973. A Government-sponsored study of the economics of advertising will be published later this year. Expenditure on packaging is estimated at £1,700 million for 1974. The Waste Management Advisory Council, set up by the Government, is studying the possibility of eliminating excess packaging.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that many of us hope that before very long the Government will introduce controls on the advertising of essential commodities? Even so, we believe that in the meantime it is essential to curb some of the obvious excesses of our society, such as unnecessary advertising and packaging. Is she aware that such a curb would be generally welcomed by the community?

I sympathise with my hon. Friend's anxiety, especially in respect of excessive packaging, for much of which there is no justification. With advertising it is very much a matter of looking at the facts in each case. Sometimes advertising has the effect of lowering costs and at other times of raising them. My hon. Friend will be aware that my Department is in close consultation with the industry about ways in which the position may be improved.

No one wishes to see excessive advertising, but will the right hon. Lady bear in mind that the survival of many newspapers, or at least their cost to the public, depends largely on the amount of advertising that they are able to carry?

Yes, that true. The real danger with advertising is that it can sometimes create a more inflationary climate than would otherwise exist. I have in mind the example of some of the advertising for financial credit schemes in 1973, at a time when the previous administration was trying to cope with a massive but out-of-hand boom.

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. May I ask my right hon. Friend either to answer my supplementary now, or Question No. 10 now, or both at the end of Question Firm?