HC Deb 28 January 1974 vol 868 cc14-5
9. Mr. Greville Janner

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many unfair trade practices have been referred to the Director General of Fair Trading; and what practices these have concerned.

Mr. Onslow

I understand that the director general has in mind certain practices for possible reference to the Consumer Protection Advisory Committee. This is a matter for him.

Mr. Janner

That is precisely the same unsatisfactory answer as came from the Government on the last occasion when this matter was raised. Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the Act could do a lot of good and that there has been far too much procrastination? When are we to have some facts and some action?

Mr. Onslow

Some time ago the hon. and learned Gentleman was told that, if he had any representations which he wished to make to the director general, there was no reason why he should not do so direct. I do not know whether he has done so. The director general has been in office for only the last three months, and I hope the House will think that the Act should be left to take its course.

Mr. Dykes

Will my hon. Friend ask the director general to look into the deplorable practice whereby, for example, car parks and garages often exonerate themselves by small print on the back of the ticket or document from any payment of compensation to people whose vehicles are damaged in their installations? This is a most unwelcome practice.

Mr. Onslow

I am sure that the director general will take note of what my hon. Friend says. I understand that the director general has some proposals for references to the Consumer Protection Advisory Committee under active consideration.

Mr. Alan Williams

Will the Minister confirm, as his ministerial colleague told us in the past, that the weights and measures inspectors are the essential local agents of the director general? As the Price Commission is not even acknowledging queries from the Weights and Measures Inspectorate about its secretly approved price increases, how are weights and measures inspectors to protect the public? Does the hon. Gentleman remember the references to "open government"? If he does—without a blush—will he now issue an instruction to the Price Commission that in future it shall announce publicly all price increases which it approves so that the director general, the Weights and Measures Inspectorate and the public may know whether they are being cheated?

Mr. Onslow

I perfectly well recall "open government", but I am aware also of the rules of order. If the hon. Gentleman wishes to ask that question. perhaps he will put it down.

Forward to