HC Deb 17 April 1978 vol 948 cc11-2
11. Mr. Anthony Grant

asked the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection if he is satisfied with the current procedure for grant-aiding the National Consumer Council and if he will make a statement.

Mr. John Fraser

I am quite satisfied with the way in which my Department grant-aids the National Consumer Council. The hon. Member may remember that the Consumer Council, set up and disbanded by successive Conservative Governments, was similarly financed by grant-in-aid.

Mr. Grant

Can the Minister point to a practical service rendered to the consumer by the National Consumer Council which is not duplicated by one or other of the 14 other consumer bodies which receive £17 million a year in grant aid, to say nothing of the £29 million a year spent by local authorities on the subject?

Mr. Fraser

Yes, I can give three examples: reports on the representation of consumers of the nationalised industries; reports on paying for fuel; and a current investigation into repair and maintenance of council houses. But there are many others.

Mr. Robert Hughes

Does not the number of bodies required to represent consumer protection show the necessity to defend ordinary citizens against the rapacious private enterprise that tries to con them out of their money at every opportunity?

Mr. Fraser

I do not take that view of private enterprise, but the consumer should be able to have a representative body speaking at national level which matches the power and the voice of the CBI, the trade unions and many other national, commercial and working class organisations.

Mr. Giles Shaw

In view of that statement, will the Minister say whether he consulted the National Consumer Council on the Spillers closures, and, if not, why not?

Mr. Fraser

No, I did not.

Mr. Shaw

Why not?

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