HC Deb 17 May 1973 vol 856 cc1773-4


6.30 p.m.

Mr. Emery

I beg to move Amendment No. 30, in page 13, leave out lines 12 to 18.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Miss Harvie Anderson)

I think it would be for the convenience of the House to take at the same time Government Amendments Nos. 33 and 34, and Amendment No. 35, in page 13, line 27, at end add— '(c) of misleading or confusing consumers by the use of varying units of price, weight or measure'.

Mr. Emery

These amendments greatly enlarge the range of effects which bring consumer trade practice within the field of the Director General's power to recommend that the Secretary of State should make an order. It will be seen that the first amendment deletes head (a) and the second is purely a drafting amendment to bring the wording of head (b) into line with the other paragraphs. The third amendment, which is the substantive one, substitutes for the more limited category defined in the original paragraph (a) of subsection (2) a much more general class which can bring any consumer trade practice with the effect of misleading or confusing consumers with respect to any matter in connection with relevant consumer transactions into the scope of the order-making power.

There was pressure in the Committee to ensure that the order-making powers were wide enough. Examples towards this end were the following: problems concerning artificially inflated recommended retail prices, or double pricing; not giving information on composition, as the Trade Descriptions Act catches only what is said and not what is left unsaid; the use of terms such as "worth" or "usually sold at", which are not caught by the Trade Descriptions Act; deceiving or confusing consumers about the extent of a service which is being provided, as distinct from the extent or scale on which the services are to be provided; and deceiving or confusing consumers about the duration in time of a service. All these are matters about which we were concerned that there should not be doubt in the manner in which the Bill was worded in Committee.

The amendment therefore covers these practices, which have been considered undesirable. As the words with respect to any matter are now included in the clause, we are confident that it is drawn wide enough to give effective and comprehensive coverage. I think, therefore, that this amendment will obviously commend itself to the House.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendments made: No. 33, in page 13, line 21, leave out 'a relevant consumer transaction' and insert 'relevant consumer transactions'.

No. 34, in page 13, line 22, at end insert: '(bb) of otherwise misleading or confusing consumers with respect to any matter in connection with relevant consumer transactions, or '.—[Mr. Emery.]

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