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Trade Descriptions Act

Volume 891: debated on Monday 28 April 1975

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asked the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection when she expects the review of the Trade Descriptions Act to be completed.

The interdepartmental committee which is reviewing the working of the Trade Descriptions Act 1968, under the chairmanship of the Director General of Fair Trading, will shortly publish a consultative document. The committee's report, which will take account of the comments received from a wide range of industry, trade and consumer bodies, is expected by the end of this year.

Does the Minister agree that at a time of rapidly rising prices there is potentially more confusion in special offers? Does he further accept that one of the greatest sources of confusion is the combination of coupons with special prices? Can he assure the House that this aspect will be given special attention and, one hopes, early recommendations?

Yes, I fully understand the difficulties to which the hon. Gentleman refers. Indeed, probing the work of price comparison, which is what the hon. Gentleman is concerned with, will be more effectively dealt with under Part II of the Fair Trading Act than under a revision of the Trade Descriptions Act. It could certainly be dealt with more quickly. I believe that the Director General will be coming forward with a consultative document in this sector in the near future.

In view of the outrageous claims made by the various Common Market organisations, such as the claim that the EEC keeps down food prices, would it not be a good idea to refer the EEC for investigation under the Trade Descriptions Act?

I am hardly answerable for all the claims made by either side, but I detect occasionally certain touches of extravagance, particularly from those opposed to the Market.