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Committee On Consumer Protection

Volume 640: debated on Tuesday 9 May 1961

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asked the President of the Board of Trade what additional questions he has asked the Committee on Consumer Protection to consider since the Committee was appointed; when he expects the Committee to report; and if he will consider asking for interim reports on the more important questions arising either from the original terms of reference or subsequent submissions.

The Answer to the first part of the Question is, "None, Sir". My right hon. Friend understands that, if the Committee's present plans are not disturbed, there is some hope that its report may be ready in the early months of next year, though it is too soon for a firm prediction. He doubts the wisdom of seeking interim reports on particular aspects of consumer protection.

Is the hon. Gentleman's reply to the first part of my Question correct? We have had statements in the House on other questions which have been submitted to the Committee for its investigation. Would he not agree that, as this Committee has been on the job now for two years, it might be helpful to it to ask it to publish interim reports, much on the same lines as the Report which it published on safety regulations?

It is not true that we have asked the Committee to investigate further questions. We have, however, from time to time sent it further evidence. In answer to the second part of the hon. Gentleman's supplementary question, the danger is, again, that we should simply hold up the inquiries if we asked the Committee to find, at the present time, answers to particular questions which we might put to it. We think it better that it should get along in accordance with its plans.

In view of the fact that the last interim Report brought out some amazing information, which resulted in some action being taken, does not the hon. Gentleman think that some "headaches" which have been sent to the Committee for consideration could be dealt with almost at once? In this way, something could be done without our having to wait for a very long time.

Most of these questions are, in some way or another, related. We think it better to allow the Committee to consider them all together.