HC Deb 04 December 1996 vol 286 c1031
11. Mr. Campbell-Savours

To ask the President of the Board of Trade what representations he has received from trading standards officers about the activities of companies selling advice on access by traders to business grants. [5790]

Mr. Greg Knight

The Department is actively working with the Office of Fair Trading and trading standards departments in cases of misrepresentation. Firms should be aware that their local business link can offer reliable advice free or at low cost.

Mr. Campbell-Savours

The Minister has obviously been briefed on the activities of European Business Services in the north-west of England, which is ripping off small business men in my constituency. Cannot the law in this area be reviewed, the more so as it is proving extremely difficult to prosecute companies such as EBS even when it is clear that they have been involved in forms of criminal conspiracy?

Mr. Knight

I have been briefed to the extent that a similar scam has been operating in my constituency and I take the same view of such practices. We already have in place certain safeguards: the Sale of Goods Acts, the Trade Descriptions Act 1968 and the Unfair Contract Terms Act 1977. Those pieces of legislation can be used by trading standards officers to prosecute when an offence has clearly been committed.