HC Deb 31 January 1929 vol 224 cc1105-6
1. Colonel HOWARD-BURY

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, whether, in view of the fraudulent character of certain tea bonus schemes, he will take steps to have them prohibited?

The SECRETARY of STATE for the HOME DEPARTMENT (Sir William Joynson-Hicks)

I have studied the report, and it is not, I think, a question of fraud, but of dishonest people who gull the public, to quote the words of a learned Judge. If any method could be devised of curbing the activities of such people I should be very glad, but, as my hon. and gallant Friend will appreciate, the necessary legislation would have to be both comprehensive and drastic.


Cannot my right hon. Friend devise some means, whether by publicity or otherwise, of putting a stop to this practice, by which people are induced to pay a very high price for tea in the hope of obtaining a bonus, which does not materialise until after 15 or 20 years?


I entirely agree that it is a most undesirable practice, but it is not illegal under the present law, and it would be very difficult to frame a Measure to deal with it. I will consider it.


Does the right hon. Gentleman realise that the people defrauded by these schemes are almost exclusively poor people, who are unable themselves to take proceedings against the firms who are defrauding them; and could some arrangement be come to in order to grant legal assistance to these people in getting their rights in the Courts?


That is not quite the point. The point is that, so far as the present decisions go, this practice is not illegal, and, therefore, it would not make any difference whether they had assistance or not. The point that I have tried to make to my hon. and gallant Friend is that a new Act of Parliament would be needed.


Does the right hon. Gentleman want to make everything that is immoral also illegal?


The right hon. and gallant Gentleman will recognise that in this matter I am on the side of the angels.