HC Deb 08 May 1968 vol 764 cc522-3
Mr. J. P. W. Mallalieu

I beg to move Amendment No. 25, in page 14, line 4l, after 'goods', insert: 'and to authorise any of their officers to secure the provision of such services, accommodation or facilities,'. The Amendment will give effect to the principle of a proposal put forward in Committee by the hon. and learned Member for Darwen (Mr. Fletcher-Cooke). It will amend the Clause to enable local weights and measures authorities, in addition to making test purchases of goods, to authorise their officers to secure the provision of such services, accommodation or facilities as may appear expedient for the purpose of determining whether the provisions of the Bill are being complied with.

If we give people a job to do which includes the enforcement of all the provisions of the Bill, and particularly Clause 13 which deals with false statements about services, accommodation and facilities, it seems reasonable that we Should give them power to spend money if it is necessary to establish whether the provisions are being complied with. They should, for instance, be able, if they want, to check to see whether there is any basis in a complaint which has been made to them. This is not a power which I expect to be used very frequently, but I think that it is needed.

Mr. Fletcher-Cooke

I thank the Minister for acceding to my suggestion. It shows how, in suitable cases, we are anxious to strengthen the provisions of the Bill, and our efforts in that direction are meeting with success.

Mr. Goodhart

I welcome the fact that the Government have seen fit to make this Amendment, because it is my experience that while members of the public rarely feel that they have been done down by shopkeepers, and are rarely actively dissatisfied with what they buy in the shops, there is active dissatisfaction with the provision of services, and perhaps I might give the House one example of what I mean.

Not long ago I was talking to the proprietor of a garage in my constituency. I was making some mild comments about the servicing of cars, and saying how difficult it was to tell whether invoices were accurate. My friend pooh-poohed the idea, and more or less suggested that all garages were run by angels who did their best for the customer. He then happened to refer to electricians. Apparently in the not too far distant past he had suffered from his lights failing at frequent intervals.

He called an electrician who diagnosed the fault and said that the entire house would have to be rewired. In fact I made some minor adjustments in one of the light sockets and completely solved the problem. This experience is apt to make one feel that all electricians were crooks and that when they went about their business they ought to be accompanied by members of the Fraud Squad.

8.45 p.m.

It is my experience in fact that there is considerable suspicion in the public mind about the provision of services, more so than about the provision of goods in shops, and I am sure that this Amendment, which enables the weights and measures inspectors if they wish to tackle the problem of services, is one of the most important provisions in the Bill.

Mr. J. P. W. Mallalieu

I sympathise with the hon. Member in his experiences even if I do not always believe his generalisations. I hope this change will make his experiences better in the future.

Amendment agreed to.

Forward to