§ 19. Mr. Pardoe
asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will seek to amend the Trade Descriptions Act to allow magistrates power to award compensation to victims of a false trade description.
§ Mr. Ridley
I still incline to the view that it is best left to the civil courts to determine damage suffered as a result of misdescription, But I would be willing to look at the matter again when the time comes for a general review of the Act.
§ Mr. Pardoe
But is the Minister aware that a recent decision by the Croydon Quarter Sessions means that the courts do not now have the power to force a guilty trader to pay compensation to his victim and that, in that case, the judge made it clear that new legislation was required? Will he accept that it was the clear intention of the Parliament that passed the Trade Descriptions Act that courts should have this power to grant compensation to the victims?
§ Mr. Ridley
The hon. Member's interpretation of that judgment is a little superficial. In some circumstances, the courts might have power. On the other hand, he will also know that, if there has been a conviction under the Trade Descriptions Act, the person convicted would be wise to pay voluntary compensation, since he would be unlikely to succeed if a civil action were brought against him. As that is the present position and as I have undertaken to look carefully at this matter in our review of the Act, I feel that we can leave the position there for the time being.