§ [The Question was as follows:
§ To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have considered amending the Consumer Protection Act 1961 to include "passing over" provisions to enable local authorities to prosecute, as the actual offenders, importers and manufacturers who have distributed goods in respect of which the sale by retailers constitutes an offence against the Act, thus creating provisions similar to those contained in Section 16 and 23 of the Trade Descriptions Act 1968.]
§ THE MINISTER OF STATE, DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND SOCIAL SECURITY (BARONESS SEROTA)
My Lords, enforcement authorities already have power to prosecute importers' or manufacturers who sell goods which do not comply with regulations made under the Consumer Protection Act. But my right honourable friend the Home Secretary agrees that enforcement authorities are sometimes hampered by the absence of provisions such as those referred to by the noble Lord, and he has noted the point for amending legislation when a suitable opportunity occurs.
§ LORD DERWENT
My Lords, may I thank the noble Baroness for what is a moderately satisfactory reply? Is she aware that in the case of certain retailers it is virtually impossible, as the Consumer Protection Act now stands, for a local authority to prosecute the manufacturer? Am I right in thinking that the noble Baroness gave me a qualified blessing for this amendment? If so, and if I were to introduce a Private Member's Bill in order to try to hurry the matter up, might I have the Government's blessing for it?
§ BARONESS SEROTA
My Lords, the noble Lord is quite right: my right honourable friend accepts that under this legislation there are certain practical difficulties for local authorities which one need not go into at this stage. With regard to his second point, the Session is fairly well advanced for the introduction of a 112 Bill, and although I cannot enter into any commitment for the Government for the next Session I think my right honourable friend would look favourably at a Private Member's Bill on these lines.