HC Deb 10 July 1973 vol 859 cc1273-5

4.19 p.m.

Mr. John Wells (Maidstone)

I beg to move,

That leave be given to bring in a Bill to protect consumers in service agreements for the maintenance of non-portable gas and electrical domestic applianes.

It is a matter of general importance to consumers of all sorts that service agreements should be brought within consumer protection legislation. It is difficult for anyone to tell whether his car has been properly maintained, whether his watch has been properly repaired and whether his gas boiler or electric cooker


That this House do pass to the Orders of the day.

has been properly maintained. It is extremely difficult for consumers to tell whether they are getting value for money in such instances.

The Bill which I seek leave to bring in is a very modest measure which, despite the distaste of the House for giving Bills Second Readings on the nod, I believe is so modest that when hon. Members have heard what I have to say they may well allow it to pass through all its stages unamended and unopposed.

The Bill seeks to compel gas and electricity boards to show that a man who has reputedly gone into a house or flat to service an item of electrical or gas equipment has in fact entered the house. The Bill is as modest as that. It does not seek to say that the service has been carried out to anybody's satisfaction. It is merely a record as it were, that somebody has attended and has done something to the equipment.

I hope that the House will give the Bill a Second Reading in a fortnight's time and that it will be a first item on which we can build further consumer protection legislation for those who are using the services of gas or electricity boards. The new Director General of Fair Trading who is to be appointed can give a direction to any company or individual about its conduct, but the Director cannot give a direction to a nationalised board. It is for this reason that I have drafted the Bill in this way.

Clause 1 sets out that In all cases where a contract or agreement exists between a Board and a consumer providing for the servicing or maintaining of any cooker or other non-portable gas or electrical domestic appliance the servicing agent shall be obliged to provide the consumer with a certificate countersigned by that consumer or his authorised representative stating the date upon the service or maintenance was carried out.

I believe that at present a large number of gas boards and perhaps also electricity boards send in bills to members of the public for service reputedly carried out which has never been done. Therefore, this afternoon I aim to bring forward this very modest Bill. I hope that the House will give me leave to introduce it.

Question put and agreed to.

Bill ordered to be brought in by Mr. John Wells, Mr. W. H. K. Baker, Mr. John Gorst, Mr. James Scott-Hopkins, Sir George Sinclair, Mr. Edward Taylor, Sir Derek Walker-Smith, and Mr. Nicholas Winterton.