§ Mr. Dorrell
asked the Minister for Trade whether he has considered the Director-General's report on the bargain offers order; and whether he will make a statement.
§ Dr. Vaughan
Yes. I am grateful to the Director-General for his report, which provides a most valuable analysis of the history of bargain offers and the problems faced by consumers, traders and enforcement officers.
It is clear that there is widespread support for the Director-General's view that there should be new primary legislation in this field. I have therefore instructed my 629W officials to undertake a comprehensive review of section 11 of the Trade Descriptions Act and the bargain offers order and to prepare proposals for new legislation.
It would not be appropriate to impose new burdens on traders in this field in advance of the results of this review, which is bound to take some time. I have decided therefore not now to proceed with the proposed VAT and ancillary charges order or, as regards the bargain offers order, to extend the present prohibition on comparisons with recommended retail prices. But I propose to make a few amendments to simplify the latter so that all concerned will understand the legal position. The most important will be to ensure that the order applies only to price and value claims where a trader quotes a comparative price or value or provides information from which such a price or value can be calculated. This should avoid the possibility of advertising slogans making general claims about value being interpreted as contrary to the order.
I propose to issue a consultation document during the autumn giving full details of my proposals.