HL Deb 15 March 1977 vol 380 cc1459-60

3.12 p.m.

Lord MELCHETT rose to move, That the draft Consumer Protection and Advice (Northern Ireland) Order 1977, laid before the House on 17th February, be approved, The noble Lord said: My Lords, I beg to move that the Draft Consumer Protection and Advice (Northern Ireland) Order 1977 be approved. The object of the order is to bring the law in Northern Ireland into line with certain provisions of, respectively, the Consumer Protection Act 1971 and the Local Government Act 1972.

The Consumer Protection Act 1971 amended the law in Great Britain by making manufacturers and importers of goods responsible for the failure of such goods to meet the construction and safety standards prescribed by regulations made under the Act. The amendments made it possible to institute proceedings against such manufacturers or importers who supplied substandard articles in addition to, or in place of, retailers and wholesalers. In addition, a defence was pro-vided where a person has taken all reasonable care to avoid the commission of an offence under the Act.

Article 3 of the present order amends the Consumer Protection Act (Northern Ireland) 1965 to provide identical pro-visions for Northern Ireland. Article 4 of the order has the quite separate purpose of empowering District Councils in Northern Ireland to provide consumer advisory services in their areas. Local authorities in Great Britain already have this power, provided by Section 201(8) of the Local Government Act 1972, and of course many local authorities are providing consumer advice centres in Great Britain.

In Northern Ireland two experimental centres are at present in the process of being established in Belfast and Londonderry by the Department of Commerce. Belfast City Council would wish to take over the running of the Belfast centre as soon as it has the necessary power; and it would be open to the Londonderry City Council to do likewise so far as the Londonderry centre is concerned. The Government would naturally be pleased to see district councils extending their role in this field. My Lords, this is a useful and desirable order and I commend it to your Lordships' House. I beg to move.

Moved, That the draft Consumer Protection and Advice (Northern Ireland) Order 1977, laid before the House on 17th February, be approved.—(Lord Melchett.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.