§ Mr. Steinberg
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what steps Her Majesty's Government are taking in co-operation with the credit industry to control the indiscriminate sale of credit facilities; and if Her Majesty's Government will give publicity to the hazards of borrowing money.
§ Mr. Maude
Comprehensive controls already exist under the Consumer Credit Act 1974 which ensure that consumers entering into credit agreements are fully informed about their potential commitments and have appropriate protection against unfair or oppressive lending practices. Regulations under the Act impose controls on advertisements to ensure that they are not deceptive or misleading and the Act prohibits the sending of unsolicited credit tokens (including credit cards) to consumers and the sending of credit circulars to minors. In addition, the Director General of Fair Trading has a statutory responsibility under the Act to provide advice and information to the public on credit matters and his office has issued a number of helpful publications which are widely available through trading standards departments, libraries and citizens advice bureaux.
While individuals who freely enter into credit agreements must accept responsibility for their decisions, I accept that lenders, too, have a duty to lend responsibly and I believe this is being increasingly recognised by the industry. I am encouraged by a number of recent developments, including the adoption by the Finance Houses Association of a code of practice, which demonstrate a commitment to responsible lending.