HC Deb 12 April 1976 vol 909 c907
20. Mr. Luce

asked the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection whether she remains satisfied with the operation of Part II of the Fair Trading Act 1973; and if she will make a statement.

Mr. Alan Williams

I am not wholly satisfied with the way Part II has operated so far. But when all concerned have had more experience of the novel procedure introduced by the Act I expect it to operate more quickly.

Mr. Luce

As the main purpose of Part II of the Fair Trading Act is to provide speedy and effective procedures for dealing with consumer malpractices and thereby to strengthen fair competition, and as it has taken an extremely long time to deal with the three main references that have been made by the Director General of Fair Trading, what will the Minister do to improve procedures and machinery for dealing with these matters?

Mr. Alan Williams

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman. These are valid points for us to be considering. I have naturally discussed this subject with the Director General and the CPAC itself. Part of the difficulty may be not inherent in the machinery but perhaps in the way in which it has been used. There are certain very serious problems. I trust that we shall have a discussion on these soon after the Recess. For example, on one problem a very serious question of vires arises. I think that the whole House would take the view that where one is creating criminal offences and where there is a question of vires, it is very important that Ministers and the Government should get it right.