asked the Secretary of State for Industry, Trade and Regional Development, in view of the illegal trading activities of the Blackpool firm, New Era Electrics, arising from operations by their door-to-door salesmen in the St. Helens constituency, whether he will take steps to investigate these activities; and whether he will introduce legislation to stop the use of minors in the making of hire-purchase agreements.
My right hon. Friend is advised that the documents which the hon. Member has submitted reveal no grounds on which he could order an investigation. As my right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General said on 23rd June, if the hon. Gentleman has evidence that a criminal offence has been committed, the facts ought to be investigated by the local police. The answer to the second part of the Question is that the general law already protects minors adequately in relation to hire-purchase transactions.
Is the Minister aware that New Era Electrics, Blackpool, is still operating and taking advantage of old people and even selling secondhand machines as new, and that this case has ben reported to the Blackpool Police but that the Chief Constable has taken no action? Is the hon. Gentleman aware that if this firm sends its lackeys to St. Helens again, I will report the case to the police and ask them to take action? Is not the Minister aware that his attitude and that of his Department in leaving old people unprotected is cowardly?
The hon. Member should be fair about this. The general enforcement of the law is the responsibility of the local police. My right and learned Friend the Attorney-General looked into the case and, as the hon. Member knows—I repeat it again today—his advice to the hon. Member and his constituents was to deal with the local police, whose job this is.