HC Deb 03 July 1952 vol 503 cc598-9
9. Mr. G. Thomas

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware of the custom of many families living in rooms to purchase their furniture on the hire-payment system and to leave the furniture in the store until the last payment has been made because they have insufficient space in their rooms; that in certain cases persons who have paid substantial sums of money have lost claim to their furniture due to the liquidation of the firm concerned; and whether he will introduce legislation to deal with such cases.

Mr. P. Thorneycroft

When the customer has not previously taken delivery of furniture which he is buying on hire-purchase or credit-sale terms, the liquidator will arrange for delivery if the furniture in question can be identified. If it cannot, the customer is a creditor and ranks for dividend with other unsecured creditors. I see no ground for introducing legislation.

Mr. Thomas

Is the Minister aware that, when the Principality Furnishing Company at Cardiff recently went into voluntary liquidation, working families in that city lost over £16,000 without any furniture being made available—[An HON. MEMBER "Private enterprise."]—and in view of the severe hardship which this causes to honest working people, will he make it obligatory on such traders to put money received in this fashion into a separate account rather than into a general account?

Mr. Thorneycroft

While expressing every sympathy with the real hardship that was caused in that case, I doubt whether legislation would be practicable on the lines suggested by the hon. Gentleman. Perhaps he will have a word with me later.

Lieut.-Colonel Lipton

Will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that in many cases the argument he used, that this furniture is identifiable, does not really apply because it cannot be distinguished from the other furniture in the shop and, therefore, the unfortunate hire-purchaser is put in the same category as all the other unsecured creditors?