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Director General Of Fair Trading

Volume 891: debated on Monday 28 April 1975

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21.

asked the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection if she will seek powers to alter the responsibilities of the Director General of Fair Trading in relation to his availability to the public.

No, Sir; but if the hon. Member has any particular problems in mind I shall be glad to consider them.

As it is important that the public should know that the Director General of Fair Trading has been appointed as the consumer's ombudsman, will the Minister ask him and his Office of Fair Trading to start a publicity campaign to encourage the public to approach him and his office direct if they feel that they have cause to complain in the matter of fair trading?

With respect, I think that that would be unhelpful, and I believe that the hon. Gentleman's own Front Bench would agree with the thinking here. Both Front Benches took the same view throughout the whole process of the fair trading legislation: that the räle of the Director General was to be at the top of a pyramid of a consumer advice service feeding processed information to the Government so that we could devise legislation. In other words, his is essentially a policy räle. Consumer protection for the individual should start at local level, and if we encouraged the public to do as the hon. Gentleman requests we should so flood the Director General with detailed cases that he would be unable to get on with his policy work.