§ 1. Mr. Newton
asked the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection if she will make a statement on progress in the issue of licences under the Consumer Credit Act.
§ The Minister of State, Department of Prices and Consumer Protection (Mr. John Fraser)
The Act imposes on the Director General of Fair Trading the duty of administering the licensing system. He has informed me that, up to 20th May, some 4,800 applications have been received—a sizeable proportion within the last few days—and 216 licences have been issued.
§ Mr. Newton
Can the hon. Gentleman say what proportion this represents of the people who needed to apply by the 2 end of this month? Does he agree that, if the number is as small as some Press reports have suggested, an entirely chaotic situation could arise if a large number of arrangements become unenforceable?
§ Mr. Fraser
The Director General estimated that about 17,000 applications ought to be received on the first licensing round. These relate to such things as credit reference, debt counselling and debt collection, and the effect of non-licensing would not be to invalidate agreements.
§ Mr. McCrindle
Has it been decided whether it would be possible to arrange for block grant licences for such people as the Building Societies Association, for example, or the Corporation of Insurance Brokers, or will it be necessary for each building society and each insurance broker to have separate licences?
§ Mr. Fraser
I understand that first building society mortgages are outside the licensing arrangements. As to the professions, three group licences have been issued so far, to solictors in England and Wales and to those in Scotland and Northern Ireland. As I do not want to prejudge the matter, all I would say is that it is open to other professional associations to discuss with the Director General the possibility of obtaining group licences.