HC Deb 17 December 1979 vol 976 cc24-5
24. Mr. Major

asked the Secretary of State for Trade if he is satisfied that manufacturers' guarantees are worthwhile for consumers.

Mrs. Sally Oppenheim

Yes, Sir. These guarantees can confer worthwhile additional rights on consumers. At the same time, they cannot deprive consumers of their rights under the sale of goods and unfair contract terms legislation.

Mr. Major

I thank my right hon. Friend for that reply. Is she aware that some guarantees contain restrictive clauses which have no validity in law and yet gravely mislead consumers? Will she take action to deal with this problem?

Mrs. Oppenheim

Yes, I am concerned that some guarantees might mislead consumers about their normal legal rights, although it is an offence to do so. I welcome the new guide for manufacturers published by the Director General of Fair Trading and I hope that manufacturers will increasingly give worthwhile guarantees in simple terms which people can understand.

Mr. Greville Janner

Instead of issuing advice or guidance from the Director General of Fair Trading, would it not be better to enforce the rules so that manufacturers stop including in guarantees exclusion clauses which they well know are void under the Supply of Goods (Implied Terms) Act 1973?

Mrs. Oppenheim

As the hon. and learned Gentleman will know, these exclusion clauses are also an offence under more recent legislation. As far as my knowledge runs, those provisions are being enforced to the full.

Mr. Flannery

Is the right hon. Lady aware that one of the most important guarantees is often a trademark? When cheap cutlery comes from the Far East to Sheffield, the implication of the trademark is that it is made in Sheffield, whereas most of it is made in South Korea. Will she do something to stop that kind of so-called guarantee?

Mrs. Oppenheim

I have already dealt with that matter in an earlier question, and I have announced the intentions that I propose to pursue.