HC Deb 19 March 1959 vol 602 cc608-9
12. Mr. F. Noel-Baker

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he has completed his inquiries into switch sales; and what action he now proposes to take to protect the public from businesses which use this technique.

23. Mr. Stonehouse

asked the President of the Board of Trade when the report being prepared by his Department on the misleading advertising of second-hand household equipment, including reconditioned vacuum cleaners and washing machines, will be available.

Mr. J. Rodgers

The Board of Trade inquiry has now been completed. It has not produced any evidence on which criminal charges could be based. I am glad, however, to hear that the Newspaper Proprietors Association and the Periodical Proprietors Association have recommended their members to obtain undertakings from advertisers of mail order goods that the goods are available.

Mr. Noel-Baker

Is the Parliamentary Secretary aware that that inquiry is totally inadequate and has been shown to be so? Ls he aware that the firms about which complaints were made in this House many months ago are still carrying on these activities and that new firms are starting to indulge in them? Will he please prepare a much better reply when the matter is raised again tomorrow by my hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey) and myself, when we shall give him a very bad time, or try to, if we do not get a satisfactory answer?

Mr. Rodgers

I am glad of the warning, but there is nothing fraudulent in attempting to sell a product that is more expensive than that advertised. In matters of this kind, the Board of Trade can take action under the Merchandise Marks Acts only against false and misleading descriptions.

Mr. Stonehouse

Whilst we welcome the action taken by the Newspaper Proprietors Association, is the Parliamentary Secretary aware that this practice of misleading advertising of second-hand goods when the firm intends to sell new goods at much higher prices is continuing on a very wide scale? His Department should take some action to control the practice.

Mr. Rodgers

Our information is that firms will now see that the goods advertised are available.

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