asked the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection what report she has received from the Office of Fair Trading regarding the discussion it is having with garages on a code of practice; and what action is proposed.
The Office of Fair Trading announced on 27th May that its discussions with the motor trade had led to the adoption by the Scottish Motor Trade Association of a code of practice in respect of used cars. It is hoped the rest of the United Kingdom trade associations will follow the Scottish example.
I thank my hon. Friend for that reply. Does he not agree, however, in view of the increase in petrol and other motoring costs, that there is greater need for consumer protection for the motorist than ever before? Will he look again at the Consumer Association report, which showed that one-third of the cars leaving garages were inadequately maintained and two-thirds were dangerously inadequately maintained? Does not something need to be done, and done urgently?
Yes, Sir, but it is a matter of doing something as urgently as possible which will be effective, when dealing with a series of outlets scattered throughout the country, many of them very small. I am sure that my hon. Friend will go along with me in congratulating the Director General and the Scottish Motor Trade Association on the first breakthrough in this sector. The schedule of inspections that we have agreed to is very valuable, and no obstacle has been put in the way of progress in England and Wales; it is just that the Scots started earlier. We hope to see this extension into England and Wales, including new cars and servicing generally.
I congratulate the Scots on their forward movement, but what is my hon. Friend proposing to do to stimulate the English and Welsh into doing likewise? Can he show to the learned and independent members of the Law Commission how much progress has been made in other sectors, so that they may try to sink their international difference?
My hon. and learned Friend seems determined to return to a point that he made earlier. I would probably be rebuked by you, Mr. Speaker, if I followed his example. For England and Wales, the Director General assures me that he is not meeting any obstacle from the trade, and that the trade is co-operating fully and willingly in attempting to establish a good code of practice in England and Wales. We hope that he will reach a suitable conclusion soon. We expect that he will come to some agreement by about the turn of the year, or early next year.