§ 25. Mr. Crouch
asked the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection if, in the interests of visitors and overseas tourists, she will refer to the Price Commission the prices being charged for ice-cream and Coca-Cola outside the Palace of Westminster.
Mr. Alan Williams
I am concerned about the reports of excessive charges by some street traders, but a reference to the Price Commission would not be the right remedy for a problem which may well involve unlicensed trading.
§ Mr. Crouch
Will the Minister take from me a suggestion as to the right remedy for the traders outside this temple? If they cannot observe the prices recommended by the manufacturers of these soft drinks and ice-cream, and continue to charge prices which are three times as much as they should be, thereby rooking tourists and visitors to this country, they should be chucked out. I suggest that we put up in St. Stephen's Garden and other places, notices of recommended prices, and so safeguard our tourists.
I am afraid that the hon. Gentleman is wrong if he thinks that this problem is confined to the immediate area of the Palace of Westminster. If it were, it would be easier 955 to solve. This sort of abuse and cheating of tourists takes place on a wide scale in London, and one of the difficulties is pinning down the people concerned. As they are unlicensed, they are often difficult to trace. For this reason, I have invited the London Tourist Board to a meeting with me this week, so that we can discuss what further measures can be taken. I am sure that this and the publicity that the hon. Gentleman has now given to the matter will help tourists. I think that magistrates could also help by not imposing such derisory fines when these people are caught.