HC Deb 29 November 1960 vol 631 cc187-90
20. Mr. F. Noel-Baker

asked the President of the Board of Trade what further measures he now proposes to adopt to ensure that where sewing machines, other electrical appliances and similar products, are advertised for sale to the general public adequate stocks of such merchandise are in fact available for sale at the price mentioned in the advertisement; and whether he has considered the evidence from the Retail Trading Standards Association sent to him by the Advertising Inquiry Committee that switch-selling continues to be considered by certain retailers as a permissible method of sales promotion.

22. Mr. Stonehouse

asked the President of the Board of Trade what measures he proposes to take to control the practice of switch-selling of sewing and other machines arising from misleading advertisements in certain papers.

24. Mr. Mayhew

asked the President of the Board of Trade what further measures he now proposes to adopt to prevent switch-selling.

29. Sir L. Plummer

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will consult the Newspaper Proprietors' Association, the Periodical Proprietors' Association, the Independent Television Authority and the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising with a view to the introduction of legislation to prevent misleading advertisements in the Press and on television for the purpose of switch-selling.

Mr. N. Macpherson

My right hon. Friend has arranged for the matters to which hon. Members have directed his attention to be discussed with the Newspaper Proprietors' Association and the Periodical Proprietors' Association which make recommendations to their members about the kind of advertisements which they should accept.

Mr. Noel-Baker

Is the Minister aware that this scandal has gone on, and on, and on, and that the action alleged to have been taken by these bodies and by the Advertising Association has so far proved totally ineffective? For how long will he tolerate these swindles being perpetrated on the general public?

Mr. Macpherson

I think that the hon. Gentleman is going rather far in saying that the action has proved totally ineffective. It may not have proved wholly effective, but we are going to discuss further with these bodies the action that might be taken.

Mr. Stonehouse

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that most daily newspapers, to their credit, refuse to carry these advertisements, but they still appear in such periodicals as the T.V. Times, and also that there is a lot of house circularisation with these kinds of inducements which are absolutely dishonest? It is up to his Department to do something about it.

Mr. Macpherson

As regards the T.V. Times, advertising on I.T.A. is a matter for my right hon. Friend the Postmaster-General.

Mr. Stonehouse

The T.V. Times.

Mr. Macpherson

The T.V. Times, but this is I.T.A. I am aware of that, but the I.T.A. in its report shows that the Authority is very alive to this issue and that stringent conditions have been laid down in regard to advertisements. Under Section 8 of the Television Act there is provision for advice to be given on the standards of conduct in the advertising of goods and services with a view to the exclusion of misleading advertisements.

Mr. Gordon Walker

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the Act mentioned does not cover the T.V. Times. and therefore that is no answer to the question he was asked?

Mr. Macpherson

This is, of course, entirely similar to the Radio Times. I will certainly look at what the right hon. Gentleman has to say, but this is not a question of television.

Sir L. Plummer

Will the hon. Gentleman tell his right hon. Friend that he should include among the people who are to be consulted the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising, who are the advertising agents who act as the mouthpiece of these swindlers? If the President of the Board of Trade does not know how to approach them, will he get in touch with Messrs. Colman Prentis and Varley who act as advertising agents for the Conservative Party and who would tell him how to approach the advertising agents?

Mr. Macpherson

We will certainly give attention to the first part of the hon. Gentleman's supplementary question.