HC Deb 24 January 1983 vol 35 cc647-8
6. Mr. Greville Janner

asked the Minister for Trade whether he will introduce legislation to give a right to doorstep buyers to return goods within three days of the purchase thereof, and thereupon to be reimbursed of the purchase price.

13. Mr. George

asked the Minister for Trade if he will introduce legislation to protect consumers from doorstep selling.

The Minister for Consumer Affairs (Dr. Gerard Vaughan)

At present a person who signs a hire purchase agreement on the doorstep can cancel the agreement up to three days after receiving a copy of the agreement through the post. I am proposing shortly to lay an order extending this to five days for all credit sales.

Mr. Janner

I welcome that announcement, belated though happy, but ask the Minister whether he will now extend the rules, by new legislation, extending cooling-off periods for those who buy from doorstep salesmen for cash, bearing in mind that evil minority of such salesmen who, by confidence tricks and pressures, cause people to enter into cash sales on their own doorsteps.

Dr. Vaughan

I am glad that the hon. and learned Gentleman welcomes the earlier announcement. However, the majority of abuses are in hire purchase and not in cash sales. That is why I am taking action to tighten up hire purchase agreements.

Mr. George

Does the Minister agree that the abuse of consumer production law with regard to the purchases of cash goods from doorstep salesmen is considerable and appalling? Will he bring about some changes, and have some discussions with crime prevention officers about one type of gross abuse by doorstep salesmen—the selling of security goods such as burglar alarms, often to very gullible purchasers?

Dr. Vaughan

I am prepared to look into this matter. As I said to the hon. and learned Member for Leicester, West (Mr. Janner) on 20 January, I am looking at doorstep selling in the general context of fairer trading We are having discussions in Europe on a directive that would include cash sales. We are of the view that Britain has much to contribute to the views on doorstep selling, and I shall be watching the directive carefully.