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Clause 24

Volume 21: debated on Friday 2 April 1982

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The Contracts Concerned

I beg to move amendment No. 9, in page 15, line 18 leave out from 'Act' to end of line 25 and insert

'a contract of service or apprenticeship is not a contract for the supply of a service'.
We are concerned here with another complicated situation, which will be simplified by the amendment, because it will remove some unnecessary words from clause 24(2). At present, the clause follows the text of clause 1(2), and it may be helpful if I remind the House of the need for that provision.

Clauses 2 to 5 imply in contracts for the transfer of property in goods terms that are similar to those implied in contracts for the sale of goods by sections 12 to 15 of the Sale of Goods Act 1979. The Law Commission has considered the matter carefully and has recommended that contracts for the sale of goods should be exempted from part I of the Bill, since the terms in those cases are already covered by the Sale of Goods Act.

Similar considerations apply in relation to hire purchase and trading stamps agreements. Terms are implied by the Supply of Goods (Implied Terms) Act 1973, the Trading Stamps Act 1964 and the corresponding legislation for Northern Ireland. Such contracts are accordingly excluded from part I of the Bill.

The question arises whether similar action should be taken in part III. It is comparatively unusual for contracts of sale, hire purchase or those involving trading stamps to include the provision of a service, but it can happen. When it does, clause 24(2) follows clause 1(2) in exempting the contract from the Bill. But the Sale of Goods Act and the other legislation does not imply terms for the provision of any services provided in contracts of sale. Therefore, we think it right that part III should apply to any services to be provided under these contracts in the same way as it applies to other contracts for the supply of services. If in any case existing statute law or the common law imposes stricter obligations on the supplier, these will remain unaffected because of clause 29(3) and (4). However, in general, the deletion of paragraphs (b), (c) and (d) from the clause will add to clarity and leave the existing legal position unaffected.

I am grateful to the Minister. This is a simplification. It takes us back to our earlier thoughts on the Bill and makes it more intelligible.

Amendment agreed to.

I beg to move amendment No. 10, in page 15, line 34, leave out 'contracts' and insert `services'.

I apologise to the House for the fact that this is another rather technical, complicated matter. It is a minor drafting amendment to make sure that, if necessary, the Secretary of State can exempt a type of service from part or the whole of part III. When I say that it is a minor drafting amendment, I have to stress that it is, nevertheless, a very important aspect of this part of the Bill.

If in future we discover that there are problems—for example, for people providing a particular type of service which clearly should be exempted from some of the provisions of part III—the amendment will enable the Secretary of State to make an exclusion order.

The only example that I have been able to discover where this might be necessary—and I am still not sure that it will be—is the highly specialised case where there is a contract with a solicitor which includes a provision for him to provide his services as an advocate. As I say, we shall look into this further.

As the clause stands, it could be argued that the Secretary of State would need to exclude all contracts, including the provision of that specialised type of service. In our view, this would be unduly wide and would deprive consumers of the protection of the Act not only for that type of service where it was inappropriate, but for any other services provided under the same contract.

The amendment makes it clear that the Secretary of State can exclude particular kinds of services povided under a contract without affecting any other services supplied under the same contract. In short it will enable exclusions from this part of the Bill to be defined more narrowly and carried into effect.

Amendment agreed to.