Consumer Advice Centres (Manchester)

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

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Mr Andrew Bennett Mr Andrew Bennett , Stockport North 12:00 am, 5th December 1977

asked the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection what discussion he has had with Greater Manchester Council about its consumer advice centres.

Photo of Mr John Fraser Mr John Fraser , Lambeth Norwood

My right hon. Friend met members of Greater Manchester Council during his visit to two of the council's consumer advice centres on 30th September this year. I am certainly ready to meet members of the council to discuss the work of these centres and my Departments' grant assistance to them, should they feel this would be helpful.

Photo of Mr Andrew Bennett Mr Andrew Bennett , Stockport North

Will my hon. Friend confirm that the Tory-controlled Greater Manchester Council is considering closing its consumer advice centres? Will he also confirm that this would mean no saving for its ratepayers and, indeed, would be a considerable loss to the people who now receive good service from these centres? Will he confirm, further, that if the district councils wish to take over this consumer protection function they will be able to do so?

Photo of Mr John Fraser Mr John Fraser , Lambeth Norwood

I have no official confirmation that Manchester proposes to do this, but if the council decided to close the centres I would regard that as a matter for very great regret. I confirm that it would not save the ratepayers of Manchester one penny, and it would deprive them of a valuable service. If district councils want to take over centres, I hope that counties will not stand in their way, and the districts can then receive the 100 per cent. Government grant.

Photo of Mr Fergus Montgomery Mr Fergus Montgomery , Altrincham and Sale

Will the Minister also confirm that it is the right of local authorities themselves to decide how money should be spent and that, if the Greater Manchester Council decides that this money is not being spent correctly, it is perfectly entitled to close these consumer centres?

Photo of Mr John Fraser Mr John Fraser , Lambeth Norwood

Yes, the council is quite within its rights in closing them down, but it is not saving its own money; it it simply cutting off a grant from the central Government.