HC Deb 21 May 1973 vol 857 cc14-6
15. Mr. Raphael Tuck

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether he has yet reached a decision on what action he will take with reference to outlawing the practice of pyramid selling.

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

I am still exploring the possibility of including the necessary measures in the Fair Trading Bill.

Mr. Tuck

Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman aware that whilst all this delay is going on people are being conned daily out of large sums of money which they cannot afford while others wax fat on their misery? Why does not the right hon. and learned Gentleman take over my Bill, alter it as he pleases and get it passed swiftly by both Houses? Does he not do so because I am a Member of the Opposition? If I were to cross the Floor of the House, would that make it easier for him? As he knows, I am always most accommodating.

Sir G. Howe

I am sure that if the hon. Gentleman were to cross the Floor mixed emotions would be excited on both sides of the House. The hon. Gentleman knows, because we have discussed it several times in debate, that for a number of reasons his Bill and its basic definition cannot be expanded so as to cover all aspects of the abuse that he wants to tackle.

The House knows that some weeks ago we published a consultative document about pyramid selling. We have received a great deal of useful information and comment. We are anxious that ways should be found of regulating pyramid selling as soon as possible, in the light of the information and comments that we have received. I echo the warning to the public that they should not be led into joining schemes of the kind in question. Nobody should enter that kind of marketing scheme except after the most careful thought and after receiving independent advice.

Mr. Alan Williams

I appreciate the difficulties, in that the consultations have only recently culminated and that the Fair Trading Bill is not about to go to another place, but when will the right hon. and learned Gentleman be able to announce his proposals to the House? Will he be putting them forward as amendments to the Bill in another place? In view of the initiative that many hon. Members on both sides have shown on the issue, will he concurrently make a statement in the House?

Sir G. Howe

I hope to be able to come to a conclusion as soon as possible, and I will consider the hon. Gentleman's suggestion about ways of making it known.