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Sixties Consumer Protection
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British Standards

British Standards Kitemark
The 'Kitemark' symbol was first conceived in 1903 as a graphic symbol intended to identify products manufactured to conform to British Standards specifications. The name 'Kitemark' was suggested by the kite-like shape of the logo design - a capital 'B' for British, lying on its back, over an 'S' for Standard, enclosed by two angled lines. The Kitemark was officially registered as a trademark on 12th June 1903, making it one of the oldest product quality marks in the world still in regular use. The logo was initially used in 1930 as a trademark on tramway rails and was the major factor in reducing the number of different rail specifications from 75 to 5. The first actual Kitemark was awarded to the General Electric Company for light fittings in 1926. For several decades, the use of the Kitemark was almost entirely limited to engineering and technical applications and appliances until the 1950s, when the consumer product 'boom' led to greatly increased interest and concerns about product safety as the marketplace was being flooded with consumer goods, many of which were of poor or inconsistent quality.

The Women's Advisory Committee was formed in 1951 to advise on standards affecting the domestic consumer. It was the precursor of today's Consumer and Public Interest Network which coordinates consumer representation on all BSI's technical committees for consumer products. As a result, 1953 saw the Kitemark being applied to domestic furniture, pressure cookers and motorcycle helmets to help consumers know whether the goods on offer were well made. Quality standards were also published for subjects as diverse as checking air pollution, nuclear energy, safety colours for use in industry, school and office furniture and the carrying of live animals by air transport. In 1959 the Test House was opened at at Hemel Hempstead, Herts, to test equipment for export to Canada, the beginning of Healthcare and Testing Services. Government regulations also introduced the compulsory application of the Kitemark for car seat belts and motorcycle helmets, the tests for which were conducted at Hemel Hempstead.

The Weights and Measures Act 1963

A Weights and Measures Act is an Act of Parliament determining the regulation of weights and measures, defining lawful weights and measures and the mechanism for inspection and enforcement of their use.
During the last 1,000 years there have been many laws concerning weights and measures in the UK and modern legislation may, in addition to specific requirements, set out circumstances under which the government may amend the legislation by means of statutory instruments. The 1963 Weights and Measures Regulations were one such revision.
Prior to the Weights and Measures Act 1985, W&M Acts were only concerned with trade law where the weight or size of the goods being traded is important. The 1985 Act broadened the scope to encompass aspects covered by the EEC directive 80/181/EEC.

Advertising Standards Authority / Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) and The Trade Descriptions Act

Advertising Standards Authority When commercial television broadcasting commenced in 1955 advertisements were controlled by legislation, the first time that advertisements had been subject to any formal regulation. When commercial radio was launched in 1973, they too were subject to the same statutory control.
In 1961 the Council of the Advertising Association established a self-regulatory system for non-broadcast advertising, drafting the first British Code of Advertising Practice.
In 1962 the industry set up the Advertising Standards Authority (although not a public authority in the accepted sense) to adjudicate on complaints about any advertisements thought to have breached the new Code, holding its inaugural meeting on 24th September. The ASA operated under an independent chairman with no vested interest within the industry.

Soon after the inception of the Authority the Molony Committee heard, but rejected, proposals to introduce a system to regulate the advertising industry by statute. The Committee stated that it was satisfied that the industry could be regulated effectively from within by the Advertising Standards Authority with the proviso that a self-regulatory system depended upon the satisfactory working of the Authority and the maintenance of acceptable standards.

In 1964 spot checks began on advertisements for slimming diets, hair treatments, knitting and sewing machines, vitamins, cigarettes, beauty treatments, gin, vodka, cocktails and health food drinks. This was followed in 1965 by guidance being provided to the travel industry to try and ensure that holidaymakers did not suffer inconvenience, disappointment or financial loss as a result of misleading advertisements. Cigarette advertising was banned on television, although cigars and loose tobacco continued to be advertised until the early 1990s. 1966 saw restrictions placed on the advertising of pregnancy testing kits being lifted and the ASA advised publishers that they could use their own discretion, subject to certain safety conditions. The Trade Descriptions Act gained Royal Assent in 1968, with the government of the time expressing its hope that the self-regulated system would continue to operate effectively alongside the statutory system.

The Consumers' Association

Which? Consumers Association Which? Magazine

The interest and progress in American, German and Swedish consumer affairs was mirrored in the UK in 1957 with the launch of 'Which?' magazine, the external organ of the Association for Consumer Research (renamed 'The Consumer's Association' shortly afterwards), that started as a 32-page publication containing reports on electric kettles, cake mixes, sunglasses, aspirin, scouring powders, non-iron cottons and British cars.

The magazine was an immediate hit with the general public due to the fact that it carried out independent and authoritative testing on popular everyday products and also advised on the 'best buys'. The organisation attracted 84,000 members in the first year, rising to 150,000 in 1959, administrating the membership services from its offices in Hertford. By 1969 it had attracted 600,000 with members joining at the rate of 2,000 a week. In 1960, Which? assisted in the founding of the International Organisation of Consumer Unions (later Consumers International).

In 1962 it expanded its coverage with the launch of the first quarterly Which? car supplement (becoming Motoring Which? in 1965), followed by the introduction of Money Which? in 1968.
Products tested during the Sixties included contraceptives (in 1963) and paper dresses (in 1967).

Which? Magazine and The Consumer's Association sat happily in the gap between the technicalities of the BSI Kitemark (most people had no idea what a British Standard award actually meant) and the Council of Industrial Design's 'Design Index' of products which acclaimed aesthetic taste but stated nothing about performance, reliability or value.

Committee on Safety of Drugs / Committee on Safety of Medicines (now MHRA)

Committee on Safety of Medicines  MHRA The general vociferation over the thalidomide tragedy was one of the main factors in the instigation of medicines regulation in the UK. Thalidomide, a drug developed by German firm Chemie Grünenthal, was prescribed to women during the late 1950s and early 1960s against nausea and to alleviate morning sickness in the first few months of pregnancy but had the side effect of causing serious unpredicted birth defects.
In order to avoid the likelihood of future occurrences of this type the Committee on Safety of Drugs was set up in 1963, subsequently becoming the Committee on Safety of Medicines (CSM) under the terms of the Medicines Act of 1968 that provided the legal mechanism for the control of medicines in the UK.

National Viewers' and Listeners' Association (now Mediawatch-UK)

Mediawatch-UK   Mediawatch-UK Mary Whitehouse began her activism in 1963 with a letter of complaint to the BBC giving her perceptions of its excessive portrayals of sex, violence and bad language. She was a prominent figure in the 'Clean-Up TV' pressure group whose first public meeting was held in Birmingham's Town Hall on 5th May 1964 and which attracted over two thousand people.
Mary co-founded the National Viewers' and Listeners' Association in 1965, which grew into an organisation (now called Mediawatch-UK) that monitors public broadcast output, publishes reports on programme content and responds to Government and other consultations on broadcasting policy, as well as arguing for parliamentary accountability for broadcasters and greater public involvement in broadcasting policy issues. The organisation is mainly concerned with taste and decency issues and ensuring that the broadcasting codes and guidelines are complied with.

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