Credit Cards

Oral Answers to Questions — Trade and Industry – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 1st November 1989.

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Photo of Mr Cecil Franks Mr Cecil Franks , Barrow and Furness 12:00 am, 1st November 1989

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what representations he has received concerning the Monopolies and Mergers Commission report on credit cards; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Hon. Nicholas Ridley Hon. Nicholas Ridley , Cirencester and Tewkesbury

I have received 370 representations following my request for views on the "no discrimination" rule, which requires traders to charge the same price for purchases made with credit cards as for those paid for by cash or other means. I am still considering these before reaching a decision.

Photo of Mr Cecil Franks Mr Cecil Franks , Barrow and Furness

I am grateful to my right hon. Friend for his statement. As and when a decision is taken, will he ensure that the interest of the consumer is paramount? In this context, the consumer is not only the individual who uses the credit card, but the supplier who looks to the credit card company for payment.

Photo of Hon. Nicholas Ridley Hon. Nicholas Ridley , Cirencester and Tewkesbury

I agree that the interests of the consumer are paramount. The difficulty in this case is to decide which alternative best serves the interests of the consumer.

Photo of Mr Eddie Loyden Mr Eddie Loyden , Liverpool, Garston

Would the Secretary of State like to comment on the suggestion that credit cards should be made available to 12-year-olds?

Photo of Hon. Nicholas Ridley Hon. Nicholas Ridley , Cirencester and Tewkesbury

If they have sufficient credit, it would be possible, but I doubt that they would have.

Photo of Ian Taylor Ian Taylor , Esher

Does my right hon. Friend recognise that outstanding credit on a monthly basis in relation to credit cards equals only 6 per cent. in comparison with the total credit outstanding? Will he note, therefore, that the Labour party's attempt to penalise credit in relation to credit card holders is extremely marginal, like the rest of Labour policy?

Photo of Hon. Nicholas Ridley Hon. Nicholas Ridley , Cirencester and Tewkesbury

My hon. Friend is right. The point here is not credit control, but what is in the best interests of consumers, as my hon. Friend the Member for Barrow and Furness (Mr. Franks) said in his supplementary question.