§ Mr. Speller
asked the Secretary of State for Trade if he will seek powers to ban the one-day markets that sell goods which do not conform to fair trading legislation and whose vendors have disappeared by the time the customer seeks restitution.
§ Mrs. Sally Oppenheim:
No. The existing law already provides a number of ways of tackling abuse. The Director General of Fair Trading, for example, is required to collect evidence of practices which may adversely affect the interests of consumers and has certain powers to initiate action in relation to such practices. Local trading standards departments have powers to prosecute traders who commit offences under the Trade Descriptions Act, the Mock Auctions Act and certain other consumer protection legislation.
I can assure my hon. Friend that I share his concern. I know that the Director General is aware of the problems which arose at one-day markets in my hon. Friend's constituency and elsewhere in Devon this summer and of the prosecutions which ensued. He is keeping a close watch on the situation but does not consider that any new legislation would be justified at this stage. He has already recommended the adoption of local codes of practice by those hiring out premises where one-day sales present local problems and has indicated to me that he will be prepared to use his powers to the full where evidence justifies action against individual traders.