HC Deb 05 December 1990 vol 182 cc287-8
1. Mr. Illsley

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether he proposes to introduce measures to record vehicle mileages and prevent the sale of unroadworthy vehicles.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Industry and Consumer Affairs (Mr. Edward Leigh)

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has asked me to apologise for his absence; as the House will no doubt be aware, he is otherwise engaged in Brussels at the GATT negotiations.

In answer to the question, the Government intend to tighten up certain aspects of the law relating to the sale of unroadworthy vehicles and appropriate measures will be brought forward at the earliest opportunity. There are, however, no plans to introduce any statutory requirement to record vehicle mileages.

Mr. Illsley

I am grateful to the Minister for that reply. A 1987 survey conducted by trading standards officers showed that about 77 per cent. of older vehicles were unroadworthy and another survey showed that about 20 per cent. of hire vehicles were unroadworthy. That means that about 1 million of the vehicles traded annually are classed as unroadworthy because they have not qualified for an MOT certificate. Bearing in mind what the Minister has said and as trading standards officers now have powers to inspect vehicles under the trade descriptions provisions and in respect of credit arrangements, will the Minister be giving trading standards officers further powers to inspect vehicles for safety—[HON. MEMBERS: "Too long."] Will he also give further consideration to recording mileages at Swansea?

Mr. Leigh

Trading standards officers already have to administer no fewer than 30 Acts of Parliament and 900 sets of regulations. Unlike Opposition Members, the Government are not convinced that tying up the measures with further red tape will do the industry any good at all. It is already an offence to sell unroadworthy vehicles.

Mr. Bellingham

Is the Minister aware that a large number of the second-hand vehicles that are sold have been clocked? Is he aware that a number of garages in the King's Lynn area have made representations to me about their grave concern about clocking of second-hand vehicles? Surely, one way forward would be to have cars manufactured with milometers that could not be put back or tampered with in any way.

Mr. Leigh

I certainly undertake to take my hon. Friend's proposal back to the Department and consider it carefully. My hon. Friend will be aware that there is already a large body of law that protects the consumer. It is already an offence under the Trade Descriptions Act 1968, the Road Traffic Acts and the Sale of Goods Act 1979 to clock vehicles.