asked the Prime Minister whether his attention has been directed to the public concern caused by recent instances of officials of the Ministry of Food and the Board of Trade endeavouring to secure charges and convictions against legitimate and honest retail traders by tempting them to break the law; and whether he will issue a direction to every Department of the Govern- ment concerned with shopkeepers that any inspector shown guilty of this offence should be adequately punished and that shopkeepers should receive all possible encouragement and advice?
I understand that the enforcement staffs of both Departments have strict instructions to avoid any word or action which savours of persuasion or enticement and that any officer disobeying these instructions will be suitably dealt with. Test purchases are only made when there are reasonable grounds for thinking that the trader in question has been guilty of breaking the law. Such purchases are a necessary part of the machinery for ensuring that Orders are generally obeyed by traders and that black market operations are frustrated. In addition to their enforcement staff, the Board of Trade have officers whose duty is to visit traders to give them help and advice.