HC Deb 09 July 1959 vol 608 cc1557-8
40. Mr. Hamilton

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he will seek powers not already given him either in the Merchandise Marks Acts or in the Prevention of Fraud (Investments) Act, 1939 in order to safeguard the interests of individuals against the kind of commercial activities about which the Member for West Fife has written him.

43. Mr. G. M. Thomson

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will introduce legislation to protect the citizen from the kind of trading activities, details of which have been supplied to him by the hon. Member for Dundee, East.

Sir D. Eccles

In the particular case the hon. Members have in mind, my information is that the purchasers believed on the basis of oral statements that the machines would be profitable and this has proved not to be the case. It is not easy to see how legislation would be a protection in such circumstances, but I will consider any suggestion the hon. Members have to make.

Mr. Hamilton

Would the right hon. Gentleman be prepared to say that if a Bill were introduced under the Ten Minutes Rule to provide a model set of regulations to govern this kind of practice, he and the Government would push it through before the General Election? Is he aware that many hundreds of humble people have been robbed of their savings by this company which, as I have said before in this House and say again, is run by scoundrels? Is he prepared to consult with the Home Office to bring back Mr. Levine to this country so that the Official Registrar might ask the questions to which he referred when the company was wound up?

Sir D. Eccles

Consideration would have to be given before any legislation was introduced. In answer to the second part of the supplementary question, the imports for which I am responsible do not extend to this gentleman, out I will consult my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary.

Mr. Thomson

Is the President of the Board of Trade aware that the sales methods used by this company—the Master Vending Machine Co. Ltd.—and the abuses perpetrated on a number of my constituents have revealed grave inadequacies in the law? Will the right hon. Gentleman look at this matter again in order to protect ordinary citizens from these "Smart Alec" sales tactics?

Sir D. Eccles

It is by no means clear to me that the kind of statements which lead purchasers to buy these machines are fraudulent. One has to look at all the evidence, and that, I think, is not very clear yet.