Part of Consumer Credit Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 10:15 am on 27th January 2005.

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Photo of Gerry Sutcliffe Gerry Sutcliffe Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Trade and Industry) (Employment Relations and Consumer Affairs) 10:15 am, 27th January 2005

If an illegal use of force were an issue, there are other mechanisms, such as phoning the police or asking OFT officers for assistance. Through a series of reasonable processes that are designed to elicit information, people will have been asked to do the right thing. However, a consumer could have been seriously harmed, and we must ensure that the OFT has the necessary powers. It could be that groups of people—cartels—may be operating in tandem to damage consumers, and legislative powers already exist relating to cartels.

I acknowledge the views of the hon. Members for Tewkesbury and for North-East Bedfordshire, but they may be overplaying the issue, albeit in the right way. Sufficient safeguards are in place. I shall write to the Committee and give details about situations in which these powers will be used.