HC Deb 25 July 1977 vol 936 cc18-9
17. Mrs. Wise

asked the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection if he will now require hire-purchase companies to disclose the real rate of interest which they charge.

Mr. John Fraser

The stautory formula employed where interest rates are shown in current hire-purchase advertisements gives only an approximation. I am having consultations about new regulations under the Consumer Credit Act which will apply to all types of credit and which for the first time will allow consumers to compare the effective annual percentage rate of charge of all kinds of credit transactions.

Mrs. Wise

Is my hon. Friend aware that his reply will be received with satisfaction, as it is really very important that consumers should be in a position to make sensible comparisons, but will he ensure that his new regulations receive adequate publicity?

Mr. Fraser

I am glad that my hon. Friend gives a welcome to the proposed new regulations. I shall certainly do what I did on the last occasion and give as much publicity as possible, with explanatory leaflets, so that traders and the public can understand the regulations.

Mr. Pavitt

In the light of the Price Commission's report on the sale of commercial hearing aids, which showed that the majority were bought on hire purchase on the doorstep and that the cost of production is £22 and the selling price £140, will my hon. Friend have a special look at the way in which the credit terms are made known to elderly people? Will he also look at the margin of £120 between the cost of production and the selling price?

Mr. Fraser

The matter of cost does not arise from the Question, but if my hon. Friend has complaints about the selling practices and the credit practices of any companies, which may be relevant to the licensing of those companies this year, perhaps he will give any appropriate information to the Director General of Fair Trading.