HC Deb 01 November 1989 vol 159 cc311-2
10. Mr. Franks

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what representations he has received concerning the Monopolies and Mergers Commission report on credit cards; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Ridley

I have received 370 representations following my request for views on the "no discrimination" rule, which requires traders to charge the same price for purchases made with credit cards as for those paid for by cash or other means. I am still considering these before reaching a decision.

Mr. Franks

I am grateful to my right hon. Friend for his statement. As and when a decision is taken, will he ensure that the interest of the consumer is paramount? In this context, the consumer is not only the individual who uses the credit card, but the supplier who looks to the credit card company for payment.

Mr. Ridley

I agree that the interests of the consumer are paramount. The difficulty in this case is to decide which alternative best serves the interests of the consumer.

Mr. Loyden

Would the Secretary of State like to comment on the suggestion that credit cards should be made available to 12-year-olds?

Mr. Ridley

If they have sufficient credit, it would be possible, but I doubt that they would have.

Mr. Ian Taylor

Does my right hon. Friend recognise that outstanding credit on a monthly basis in relation to credit cards equals only 6 per cent. in comparison with the total credit outstanding? Will he note, therefore, that the Labour party's attempt to penalise credit in relation to credit card holders is extremely marginal, like the rest of Labour policy?

Mr. Ridley

My hon. Friend is right. The point here is not credit control, but what is in the best interests of consumers, as my hon. Friend the Member for Barrow and Furness (Mr. Franks) said in his supplementary question.