HC Deb 31 January 1957 vol 563 cc1147-9
15. Miss Burton

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware of the financial difficulties in which workers unemployed in the present emergency find themselves concerning hire-purchase agreements; and if, because of the larger numbers involved today, he will reconsider his previous decision not to introduce legislation declaring a moratorium on the power of hire-purchase firms to repossess themselves of goods where the hirer becomes unemployed, or is put on short time, after the hiring agreement has been made.

Sir D. Eccles

I am aware of the difficulties to which the hon. Lady refers, but I consider that the protection against repossession already afforded to hirers by the Hire-Purchase Acts is adequate.

Miss Burton

The right hon. Gentleman will be aware that his predecessor gave me that answer on 25th October. May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he realises that the provisions to which he refers have reference only to goods up to £300 in value? Is he also aware that in Coventry, for example, there are some of these people who have caravans on hire-purchase agreements? Caravans cost a lot mote than that, and in view of the increase in unemployment in Coventry, would the right hon. Gentleman look at the matter again?

Sir D. Eccles

I was not aware of the caravan difficulty, and I will look at it.

18. Mr. Allaun

asked the President of the Board of Trade what representations he has received seeking some easing of the present restrictions on the hire purchase of gas and electric cookers and water heaters; and if, in view of the difficulty for low-paid workers and old-age pensioners in saving the required deposit, he will consider easing the restrictions.

Sir D. Eccles

I have recently received representations from the North Western Gas Consultative Council about the effect of the hire-purchase restrictions on gas cookers and gas water heaters. I have no intention of relaxing the restrictions on gas or electric cookers and water heaters at the present time.

Mr. Allaun

Is the President aware that there are working-class families and old-age pensioners moving into corporation houses who cannot put down the 20 per cent. deposit, and consequently cannot cook a hot meal properly until they have saved that amount?

Sir D. Eccles

The terms of 20 per cent. deposit and a 48-months' repayment period compare very favourably with those of a number of other goods. I do not think we could alter this provision without raising a great many other questions.