HC Deb 19 June 1996 vol 279 cc865-6
11. Mr. Rendel

To ask the President of the Board of Trade what plans he has to make the regulations covering pyramid selling more restrictive. [32118]

Mr. John M. Taylor

The Government fully support the provisions of the Trading Schemes Bill, which has just had its Second Reading in another place. The Bill will extend the application of existing controls on pyramid selling to money circulation schemes. As and when it becomes law, we will introduce revised regulations.

Mr. Rendel

Does the Minister agree with me in welcoming the proposed changes and agree further that anyone who becomes involved in such a money-changing scheme is ill advised? Does he agree also that the public would be well advised to avoid such schemes like the plague?

Mr. Taylor

I agree with the hon. Gentleman. I remind him of what Sir Richard Scott said in the High Court about a recent case, and one that the hon. Gentleman knows about. He said that it was highly unsatisfactory, highly suspicious and thoroughly undesirable". The hon. Gentleman is right to warn his constituents, and I mine.

Mrs. Dunwoody

The Minister will be aware that in some instances 400 or 500 people at a time are being enticed into crazy schemes that require them to put up large sums with no visible return of any sort. Will he therefore make his views public so that people throughout the country are aware that the schemes are a straightforward scam? As soon as the law becomes operational, I hope that many people will find themselves in the courts.

Mr. Taylor

I accept the hon. Lady's sentiments entirely. My most immediate opportunity to make my views public is now. I remind the House that, in the past 24 months, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has made 13 applications to wind up companies promoting money-making pyramids. There are other applications in the pipeline. The applications have led to 12 orders to wind up. One case is pending.