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Contracting "As A Consumer"

Volume 131: debated on Friday 15 April 1988

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1.40 pm

I beg to move amendment No. 1, in page 2, line 18, at end insert—'but on a sale by auction or by competitive tender the buyer is not in any circumstances to be regarded as entering into the contract as a consumer.'

The intention of the amendment is to resolve the question of the type of arbitration agreements covered by the Bill. As currently drafted, only consumers, as defined in the Bill, are covered, and that remains the intention throughout the Bill.

For the purposes of the Bill, the definition of a consumer has been taken from the Unfair Contracts Terms Act 1977. There is a specific provision in that Act that excludes its application to auctions or contracts made by competitive tender. To ensure that there is a harmonious approach between the Act and the Bill, it is necessary to keep the same form of words. The amendment introduces the appropriate wording to ensure that that is the case.

Being Leader of the Opposition (Fridays), if only for 50 minutes, it is tempting to seize the opportunity to make a long speech. However, it would probably be better for us to restrain our egos. The amendment is a little inelegantly worded, but I see its purpose and support it.

The amendment seems to be attracting warm support among hon. Members, so I should like to add mine.

The Bill, in rather a short period of time, was subjected to amendments in Committee and on the Floor of the House. As often happens in those circumstances, some subsequent tidying-up became necessary. The amendment falls into that category.

My hon. Friend the Member for Rugby and Kenilworth (Mr. Pawsey) is right to say that it is desirable that the definition of contracting as a consumer is brought into line with the provisions of the Unfair Contract Terms Act 1977. That is achieved by the amendment and I commend it to the House.

Amendment agreed to.