HC Deb 23 July 1969 vol 787 cc1715-6
28. Mr. William Hamilton

asked the President of the Board of Trade how many prosecutions there have been to date in Scotland under the Trade Descriptions Act.

Mrs. Gwyneth Dunwoody

By 18th July we had been notified of 18 cases in which it was intended to prosecute in Scotland, but as far as I am aware only two of these cases have yet been heard.

Mr. Hamilton

Is my hon. Friend aware that that reply is very disappointing? Can she say what increased publicity is being undertaken by the Board of Trade to give consumers information about their rights under this legislation and how much it is costing?

Mrs. Dunwoody

As my hon. Friend knows, the Board of Trade has been very active in publicising this legislation. We have printed a great many leaflets, which have been available free of charge to consumers and consumer associations from local authorities. We are doing everything we can to publicise the existence of this protection for the shopper.

Mr. Woodburn

Is my hon. Friend aware that this legislation has brought a good deal of help to the housewife through getting rid of much misleading description, especially since her excellent broadcast?

Mrs. Dunwoody

I am grateful to my right hon. Friend. In England there have been 546 intended prosecutions up to the same date. Whether this simply proves that in Scotland the ladies are tougher shoppers I would not like to say.

Mr. Darling

Is it not a fact that the Trade Descriptions Act is working extremely well and the very few prosecutions are evidence of this and of the fact that the weights and measures inspectors throughout the country have done a very good job of work, persuading traders not to commit offences rather than prosecuting them for those offences?

Mrs. Dunwoody

I could not agree more with my right hon. Friend. The weights and measures authorities have done a magnificent job on this legislation. They have been encouraged to discuss the problems of misdescription with the traders before undertaking prosecutions. This is the right way.

Mr. Clark Hutchison

Do not the figures show that Scottish traders are pretty honest?

Mrs. Dunwoody

It is very invidious to make comparisons between Scotland and the rest of Great Britain, but I am sure that Scottish shopkeepers will have noted the hon. Gentleman's remarks.