HC Deb 05 March 1973 vol 852 cc8-9
7. Mr. Sydney Chapman

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will seek to amend Section 14 of the Trade Descriptions Act 1968 to ensure that where goods, etc., are sold with a promise and on the basis that services will be provided in the future, it should be an offence if those services are not subsequently provided, following, the recent decision of the courts in the case of Beckett v. Ben Cohen 1972 1 WLR 159.

The Minister for Trade and Consumer Affairs (Sir Geoffrey Howe)

I appreciate my hon. Friend's concern, but I have not yet decided whether an amendment to the Trade Descriptions Act is the best way to deal with the situation.

Mr. Chapman

I thank my right hon. and learned Friend for that reply. Does he agree that this is only one of recent court decisions which suggest that at least Sections 11, 14 and 28 of the Trade Descriptions Act 1968 should be amended if the Act is to implement what Parliament intended?

Sir G. Howe

The effects of this particular decision should not be exaggerated. Traders of all kinds would do well to remember that false statements about any matter of existing fact will continue to give rise to criminal liability under the Trade Descriptions Act. There are difficulties about attaching that kind of liability to every promise about the terms on which a future service is to be provided. This together with the other matters mentioned by my hon. Friend will be one of the kinds of problems that the Director General of Fair Trading will be able to consider as soon as the Fair Trading Bill becomes law.