HC Deb 06 November 1968 vol 772 cc859-60
1. Mr. Arthur Davidson

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he is aware of the system of pro forma selling by which certain firms send out invoices offering discounts for entries in forthcoming directories, such entries never having been ordered; if he is satisfied that the public is sufficiently protected from such practices; and if he will make a statement.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade (Mrs. Gwyneth Dunwoody)

I am aware of the regrettable practice to which my hon. Friend refers, but I think it is for the recipients to protect themselves by checking before payment that they have not contracted for any such directory entries.

Mr. Davidson

Does not my hon. Friend agree that this practice is nothing more than a squalid confidence trick? Does she not agree also that there is something wrong when apparently a firm can imply that an order has been placed when it has not been placed, when it can raise thousands of £s by this implication, and when it can also imply that a directory is to be published when it is not? Does not she think that the law needs to be strengthened?

Mrs. Dunwoody

I am in complete agreement with my hon. Friend that it is very reprehensible to send out pro forma invoices that look so like genuine bills that people are sometimes misled. I hope that any firm that receives any form like this will take the opportunity to complain and that people will not be taken in by this practice, which seems to me, although it is not illegal, to be thoroughly wrong.