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Christmas Cards (Russian Imports)

Volume 986: debated on Monday 16 June 1980

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13.

asked the Secretary of State for Trade if he will use his powers under the Trade Descriptions Act to require that Russian Christmas cards be marked with their country of origin when being offered for sale.

Inquiries by my Department suggest that this trade is coming to an end. But I now put the USSR on notice that if the problem should persist I shall not hesitate to use the powers of the 1968 Act.

Will my hon. Friend accept that I welcome that statement and hope that it will prevent a country that suppresses religion from benefiting commercially from it? On reflection, does not my hon. Friend agree—particularly with reference to previous questions—that we should enact legislation to mark all goods with the country of origin and thus stop the evil practice of a disreputable and agnostic country?

I note what my hon. Friend has said. My right hon. Friend is about to make a statement on that question.

Should not the legislation apply with equal force to Easter cards as Christmas and Easter are both religious festivals in Britain? Is not the consumer entitled to know the origin of such cards—not only those from the Soviet Union—so that he may exercise any conscientious objections he may have about the persecution of religion?

I agree with my hon. Friend. I hope that he noticed the speech made last week by my hon. Friend the Member for Eye (Mr. Gummer). He and the hon. Member for Stalybridge and Hyde (Mr. Pendry), have made that point, together with my hon. Friend.