HC Deb 04 December 1972 vol 847 cc899-900
21. Mrs. Sally Oppenheim

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if, in his forthcoming legislation on consumer protection, he will seek to ensure that where a multiple offer of trading stamps is made, the number of stamps comprising a single unit should be displayed on the same notice as the offer.

Sir G. Howe

This is one of the matters which it would be open to the Director General of Fair Trading to consider when the provisions of the Fair Trading Bill are enacted.

Mrs. Oppenheim

I welcome that answer, but does not my right hon. and learned Friend agree that as most garage proprietors do not give prominence to the display of the notice that they must display in compliance with the Trading Stamps Act 1964, which states the basic number of stamps that must be issued with each gallon of petrol, it would be far better for such information to be carried on the advertisement for a multiple offer so that motorists can easily calculate how many stamps they are entitled to, especially as more than 2,000 complaints of short-changing in trading stamps have been made to inspectors of weights and measures and the real incidence is probably three times greater?

Sir G. Howe

I appreciate my hon. Friend's concern about the matter. That is why I gave the answer I did. It still remains a fact that notices setting out the entitlement of stamps have to be displayed at premises where stamps are available. [HON. MEMBERS: "They are not."] They have to be displayed in a situation where they can conveniently be read by customers. Purchasers can always inquire before buying about the rate at which stamps will be given, and they should do so if they are concerned about it.

Mr. Lipton

Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman aware that trading stamps in garages have developed into a real racket and that all kinds of fiddling are going on, which apparently are to continue until at some time or another the new Director General starts operating?

Sir G. Howe

I appreciate that there are matters giving rise to concern. These can be considered by the Director General of Fair Trading. The establishment of such an official with powers to investigate such questions will represent a large improvement in the rights of consumers.

Sir R. Cary

Do not green stamps represent all the disadvantages of a monopoly?

Sir G. Howe

On the contrary, buyers who are not satisfied with the brand of stamps or with the garage offering the stamps can transfer their custom, whether for petrol or other items, to many other trading outlets.

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