HL Deb 30 October 1990 vol 522 cc1772-3

2.45 p.m.

Baroness Masham of Ilton asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether there is any evidence that car-boot sales encourage crime; and if so, what steps they intend to take.

Lord Reay

My Lords, we are not aware of any evidence that car-boot sales encourage crime.

Baroness Masham of Ilton

My Lords, I thank the noble Lord for that rather short reply. Is he aware that petty crime is on the increase and, if so, will the Home Office undertake some research into the problem? Uncontrolled car-boot sales could be a very convenient way to get rid of garden tools, workmen's tools, videos and other such goods which are stolen.

Lord Reay

My Lords, the police are aware that car-boot sales could be used to dispose of stolen property. They will take action if they consider it to be necessary. But we have no evidence that such sales encourage crime and we do not consider that at present there is a case for further research.

Baroness Strange

My Lords, is my noble friend aware of Section 22(1) of the Sale of Goods Act 1893? It states: Where goods are sold in market overt, according to the usage of the market, the buyer acquires a good title to the goods". Is he further aware that a sale made in market overt destroys the true owner's title to the goods and that "market overt" was defined in 1971 as being out of doors between sunrise and sunset?

Lord Reay

My Lords, my noble friend draws to my attention some statutes which I had overlooked. I am not entirely sure whether she is in favour or opposed to these sales. However, as I said, we see no reason to suppose that they are linked to crime.

Lord Hailsham of Saint Marylebone

My Lords, I am not quite sure what a car-boot sale is; but is the noble Lord aware that it is quite clear that it is not market overt, at whatever hour it is held?

Lord Reay

My Lords., the House must be grateful to my noble and learned friend.

Lord Molloy

My Lords, can the noble Lord tell us whether there are any statistics to indicate the amount of thieving from car boots and the amount of stolen booty put into car boots?

Lord Reay

No, my Lords. There are no statistics available on crime committed at car-boot sales or linked to car-boot sales. There must always be a risk of stolen property changing hands at car-boot sales, as, for example, there is in a street market. However, there are occasions when ordinary, law-abiding people want to get rid of unwanted articles and a car-boot sale offers an opportunity to do so which they might otherwise not have.

Lord Gisborough

My Lords, will my noble friend look again at this matter because there is a very strong belief that many of the wirelesses that are torn out of motor cars find their outlet at car-boot sales?

Lord Reay

My Lords, I am happy to look at the point which my noble friend raises.

Baroness Masham of Ilton

My Lords, is the noble Lord aware that on Thirsk racecourse each Sunday there is a car-boot sale which seems to attract the attendance of more people than a race meeting?

Lord Reay

My Lords, I am not aware of how many people normally attend Thirsk races. Certainly car-boot sales can range up to more than 3,000 cars. Probably more commonly they are small sales organised by community groups to raise funds for schools, churches and so forth.