HC Deb 12 July 1955 vol 543 cc1725-6
24. Mrs. Mann

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he is aware that hire-purchase traders are offering goods under terms advertising no deposit, when the goods are rented only and are not sold; and, as the public are misled into thinking that the goods are being sold by hire purchase, if he will take steps to ensure that agreements to rent only must make it clear that there is no eventual sale.

Mr. P. Thorneycroft

Yes, Sir, but I have no reason to suppose that the agreements themselves mislead anybody.

Mrs. Mann

Will the right hon. Gentleman really look into this matter, because hire purchase is a very important item in the life of this nation? I could show him hire-purchase advertisements in which it is stated "No deposit," "Delivery on the first payment," "Two years to pay." They are running through the restrictions with a horse and cart while the right hon. Gentleman is flying ahead in a motor car seeing nothing that is going on behind his back.

Mr. Thorneycroft

The hon. Lady is in some confusion here between agreements for hiring and agreements for hire purchase. I think that she has some reference in her possession to hiring in which the property never passes.

Mr. Gower

Is it not a fact that what the law requires is some sort of document to pass between the hirer and the person entering into the agreement? Under the existing law there is no need for a notice to be exhibited in the window. That is the point about which I was asking.

Mr. Thorneycroft

I am much obliged. I thought that my hon. Friend was referring to the actual document which had to be given to the person receiving the goods. We cannot have a greater safeguard than that, and the document has to state the things that I have mentioned.

Mr. Gaitskell

Is it not perfectly clear, from what my hon. Friend the Member for Coatbridge and Airdrie (Mrs. Mann) read out, that what she is complaining about is advertisements which give a misleading impression? Will the President look into this matter again? There are many reports of customers being deceived in this way, and the whole business needs looking into.

Mr. Thorneycroft

I think that that may be right. I have asked to see the newspapers. Nothing the Board of Trade can say can compel buyers to read the agreements which they sign. If they will not read the agreements we cannot be responsible for the consequences.