HC Deb 19 March 1969 vol 780 cc488-9
36. Mr. Arthur Davidson

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he is satisfied that the existing law provides adequate protection for the public from the effects of inertia selling; and if he will take steps, by legislation or otherwise, to ensure that persons cannot be required to pay for goods sent through the post which the recipients have not ordered and do not want.

Mrs. Gwyneth Dunwoody

As the law already stands, people cannot be required to pay for unsolicited goods which they do not choose to accept, and this should be clearly understood.

Mr. Davidson

Why should the public be put to trouble, expense, and ordeal by solicitor's letter in respect of these goods which they have not ordered? Is it not time that the onus was put very firmly on the firms which choose to operate in this way, just within the law? If they choose to send out goods in this fashion, ought they not to do so at their own risk and cost?

Mrs. Dunwoody

I have considerable sympathy with my hon. Friend's point of view. The difficulty is in framing legal safeguards of the sort that he has suggested. I would be happy to look at this again.

Mr. Patrick Jenkin

Is not the real need for publicity to explain to members of the public that they have no obligations in this matter, and that they need not pay any attention to demands for payment, when they have taken no steps to indicate a desire for the goods?

Mrs. Dunwoody

We believe that if people knew their rights even more clearly in this matter they would be protected. We have deliberately put a reference to this type of selling in our latest publicity leaflet on the Trade Descriptions Act, and I hope that people will firmly refuse to have anything to do with goods sent to them in this manner.