HC Deb 16 May 1990 vol 172 cc874-5
6. Mr. Stern

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what proposals he intends to bring forward to amend the law relating to the protection of purchasers of consumer capital goods.

Mr. Forth

The Government have announced their support for the Law Commission's recommendations to amend legislation on the sale and supply of goods and services. Those recommendations cover other transactions within the ambit of that legislation and not only those for "consumer capital goods". The private Member's Bill introduced by the hon. Member for Clwyd, South-West (Mr. Jones) would give legislative effect to those proposals.

Mr. Stern

Will not that private Member's Bill, which is at the moment in the other place, be a useful addition to the body of law if it is passed in its present form? However, once that Bill is passed, is not there still scope for a fresh look at protection of the purchasers of consumer capital goods?

Mr. Forth

My hon. Friend is correct. In the shape in which it left the House and went to the other place, the private Member's Bill has the Government's full support, and I hope that it ends up on the statute book, because it would add considerably and significantly to consumer protection. My hon. Friend is also correct to say that I undertook that when the Bill is resolved one way or another by both Houses of Parliament, it will be appropriate for me and the Department to look at consumer guarantees—something on which my hon. Friend has pressed me on a number of occasions—to see whether it is appropriate to consider further legislation in that sector. I have undertaken to do that in the past and I gladly do so again.

Mr. Ashdown

While we are on the subject of consumer protection, is the Minister aware of the disgraceful failure of the Insurance Brokers Registration Council to protect the interests of consumers in the Wessex Trust affair, in which so many have lost, often their life savings? Is he further aware that the IBRC has lost applications for grants and sought to discourage eligible applications? If he says that he cannot and will not intervene to ensure that the IBRC fulfils its obligations, will he at least express his disapproval of its actions?

Mr. Forth

Far be it from me to invade your territory, Mr. Speaker, but if the right hon. Gentleman spent more time in the House, he would realise that he was asking supplementary questions not only on a subject which has nothing to do with the main question, but on something which has nothing to do with my responsibilities. It is entirely a matter for my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Corporate Affairs. However, if the right hon. Gentleman wishes to write to the correct Minister in my Department, he will get an answer from my hon. Friend.

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