HC Deb 20 December 1971 vol 828 cc1112-3
41. Mr. Rost

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether he will investigate the business activities of B.M.R. United Publications Limited, of 62 Oxford Circus House, London, publishers of Town and Country Trades Guide and British Commercial Classified Business Guide, with a view to instigating prosecutions under the Unsolicited Goods and Services Act.

Sir J. Eden

The enforcement of this Act is a matter for the police to whom my hon. Friend will no doubt give any evidence in his possession of the commission of an offence under it.

Mr. Rost

I thank my hon. Friend for that reply. Is he aware that I am almost embarrassed to have to admit that my own wife, who runs a hairdressing business, has been conned into making two subscriptions to one of these bogus trade directory firms, neither of which she wanted and both of which were worthless, and that she is now being pursued for money for a further subscription for which she has not asked? Could we now have some sort of enforcement so that this type of firm will no longer be able to extract money from the innocent small trader against her will?

Sir J. Eden

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for having given me information about this case, and I am sorry that it has involved a member of his own family. However, enforcement rests with the police, and I must rest on my substantive reply.

Mr. Arthur Davidson

Could the hon. Gentleman say whether, since the advent of this excellent Act, complaints about the activities of seedy and disreputable directory firms have decreased; and whether he will give a public warning that the provisions of the Act will be rigorously enforced?

Sir J. Eden

I am sure the House will understand that I cannot become involved in individual prosecutions. However, I am naturally concerned to see that the Act is effective in restraining the abuses at which it is directed. I believe that its directory provisions are successfully restraining abuses.