Clip-board Selling

Oral Answers to Questions — Oral Answers to Questions – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 5th December 1977.

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however, in a number of cases at least, had to buy forward, and they bought forward at prices higher than the prices now prevailing.

Photo of Mr Robert Adley Mr Robert Adley , Christchurch and Lymington

As fish and chip shops in my constituency are still doing good business, and as in a previous answer the Minister expressed his great enthusiasm for competition, will the hon. Gentleman take this opportunity to admit to the House that nothing epitomises the spirit of free enterprise more than the fish and chip shop? Will he give an equally loud and clear welcome to that too?

Photo of Mr Robert Maclennan Mr Robert Maclennan Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Prices and Consumer Protection)

I share the view that it is highly desirable that the price of fish and chips should be as low as is consistent with maintaining production and profit. The problem, as I have explained, was that the price of potatoes rose very steeply during 1976—four times that in the base year of 1974—but the price of frozen chips in the same period did not rise by anything like as much and, therefore, the fall from that peak has been slightly less.

Photo of Mr Max Madden Mr Max Madden , Sowerby

Will the Minister say what discussions are being conducted between his Department and the appropriate trade bodies about the price of all kinds of chips, and when he expects to make a statement on the outcome of these discussions?

Photo of Mr Robert Maclennan Mr Robert Maclennan Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Prices and Consumer Protection)

We have had discussions with the processors and with representatives of the trade. The question of profit margins, raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Dearne Valley (Mr. Wainwright), is for the Price Commission, which monitors the net profit margins of these companies under the provisions of the Price Commission Act.

Following is the information:

tions on the practice known as clipboard selling.

Photo of Mr John Fraser Mr John Fraser , Lambeth Norwood

No, Sir, but if the hon. Member has any information about this reprehensible practice I shall be very willing to consider it.

Photo of Mr Robert McCrindle Mr Robert McCrindle , Brentwood and Ongar

I echo the Minister's condemnation of any attempt to sell under false pretences. Nevertheless, will he not agree that the practice could be made much more acceptable if those engaged upon it were to wear some sort of identification so that members of the public who were approached were not under the misapprehension that they were answering questions in a genuine research inquiry?

Photo of Mr John Fraser Mr John Fraser , Lambeth Norwood

I do not think that we have any powers to hang labels around attractive girls with clip-boards in the street. [An HON. MEMBER: "Why not?"] It would be best to bring a complete end to what is a deceitful practice and an abuse of trust.

Photo of Mr Tom Litterick Mr Tom Litterick , Birmingham, Selly Oak

Will the Minister do us the great service of explaining what clipboard selling is, so that we might be appropriately scandalised?

Photo of Mr John Fraser Mr John Fraser , Lambeth Norwood

It is the practice of pretending to be a market researcher in order to obtain people's names and addresses, later to sell them insurance or a savings plan.