HC Deb 22 October 1979 vol 972 cc2-3
1. Mr. Murphy

asked the Secretary of State for Trade if he is satisfied with consumer protection in the nationalised industries.

The Minister for Consumer Affairs (Mrs. Sally Oppenheim)

The effectiveness of the present arrangements for protecting the consumer interest in the nationalised industries is now the subject of long overdue review. I will bring to the House any proposals for improvements after full consultation with my colleagues with responsibilities for the nationalised industries.

Mr. Murphy

I thank my right hon. Friend for that answer. Does she agree that consumers who have to deal with State monopolies have little or no choice on many occasions and therefore need extra protection?

Mrs. Oppenheim

I entirely agree with my hon. Friend that we are dealing with an area where consumers are captive. As my hon. Friend says, they either have no choice or it is limited. That is why in the Competition Bill we are introducing two important provisions to protect consumers of nationalised industry goods and services and examining consumer protection generally in that area.

Mr. Heffer

As consumer protection is now non-existent in the private sector, is not the need to resuscitate the Price Commission long overdue?

Mrs. Oppenheim

Far from consumer protection being non-existent, consumer power will be fortified by strengthening competition policy.

Mr. Moate

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the inquiry into British Rail's commuter services under the new powers which she announced during the recess is welcome? Will she confirm that consumers will have an opportunity to give evidence to such inquiries?

Mrs. Oppenheim

I am sure that the Monopolies and Mergers Commission will be receptive to any information that comes its way. The process cannot, however, commence until we have Royal Assent to the Competition Bill.

Back to