§ Mr. Grylls
asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether he will make a statement upon progress with the review of section 11 of the Trade Descriptions Act 1968 and the Price Marking (Bargain Offers) Order 1979.
§ Mr. Fletcher
An inter-departmental working party of officials chaired by the Department of Trade and Industry has completed a comprehensive review of the existing legislation on false and misleading price information and has considered proposals for new legislation in this field. Copies of the working party's report and my comments on some of its recommendations have been placed in the Library of the House. My Department is today commencing consultations with interested parties upon the report and recommendations and on my comments and is inviting response by 30 June 1984.
The central recommendation of the report is that section 11 of the Trade Descriptions Act 1968 and the Price Marking (Bargain Offers) Order 1979 should be replaced by a new general prohibition on false or misleading pricing to be supported by a statutory code of practice, which would set out the essential clear but detailed guidance upon individual practices. An alternative suggestion, on which I am also inviting comments, is that instead of a general prohibition, supported by a code of practice, there should be a set of detailed provisions (covering much the same ground as the working party's proposed code) in the legislation itself.
I must make it clear, however, that at this stage the Government are not committed to legislation, either on the 206W basis of the working party's report or on the alternative suggestion. Conclusions on that will be reached in the light of responses to the consultations, at which stage the House will be informed again.