§ Mr. Colvin
To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what are the current arrangements for regulation of the timeshare industry at home and abroad; and whether he has any plans to change them.561W
§ Mr. Leigh
The timeshare industry is subject to the general law of contract and, where appropriate, to existing consumer protection legislation.
Mailshots and award schemes are covered by the codes of practice administered by the Advertising Standards Authority. These codes are voluntary but, where they fail, the Director General of Fair Trading can take action under the Control of Misleading Advertisements Regulations. He can apply to the courts for an injunction to prevent the publication or continued publication of an advertisement. In some circumstances the Consumer Credit Act may apply. The Trade Descriptions Act would apply if, for example, false statements are made about facilities at a resort.
As I announced on 18 February, I have accepted in principle the recommendations of the Director General of Fair Trading for changes to the Trade Descriptions Act to tighten controls on statements about services and to bring timeshare award schemes within the scope of that Act. They will be dealt with as part of the general review of the Act.
Since most timeshares are located abroad, and much of the selling also takes place abroad, further regulation, to be effective, needs to be at Community level. The Commission has accordingly been made aware of the Government's view that Community action is necessary to implement the Director General of Fair Trading's recommendations for a prospectus for prospective buyers, a cooling off period and protection of deposit moneys.