HC Deb 11 October 1976 vol 917 cc20-1
19. Mr. Ioan Evans

asked the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection what further proposals are being considered to improve the protection of consumers.

Mr. John Fraser

I have nothing to add to the reply given to my hon. Friend on 5th July.

Mr. Evans

Does my hon. Friend agree that at a time of inflation the need for consumer protection is greater than ever? Does he agree that there should be extra public expenditure to make it possible to continue to open new consumer advice centres throughout the country? Does he further agree that such centres are doing valuable work and preventing a good deal of unnecessary private spending?

Mr. Fraser

He would he a rash man who promised an increase in public expenditure at present, but I agree with my hon. Friend that consumer advice services and price surveys have a significant part to play in the battle against inflation. I hope that we shall continue with them.

Mr. Geoffrey Finsberg

Does the Minister agree that one way of protecting consumers, without public expenditure, is for them to take advantage of competition among retailers?

Mr. Fraser

Yes, that is one of the ways of beating inflation. However, we cannot have perfect competition without perfect information, and that is why the two activities are complementary.

Mrs. Dunwoody

Will my hon. Friend have a word with the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and suggest that we should possibly opt out of the common agricultural policy, which is now accounting for two-thirds of our deficit with the Common Market countries, an opting out that would mean a great saving for the British housewife?

Mr. Fraser

My right hon. Friend has already made clear in answer to earlier questions our critical view of the common agricultural policy.

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