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GOVERNMENT HERALDS NEW CULTURE OF 'CONSUMER POWER'

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Stephen Byers, the trade and industry secretary, yesterday promised a new culture of consumer power, with people de...
Stephen Byers, the trade and industry secretary, yesterday promised a new culture of consumer power, with people demanding lower prices and better deals, reports The Times (p5).

He said he would not hesitate to use new powers to refer any examples of over-pricing to the director general of fair trading. Prices in the UK will now be tested on an international scale, with the cost of 100 everyday items compared in Britain, France, Germany and the United States.

'Shopping spies' will be sent to scour supermarket aisles and high street windows to monitor fluctuating prices in the four countries.

They will examine branded and non-branded goods and will also compare items such as a week's car hire and a cinema ticket.

The list of items to be studied at least once a year has been selected from the family expenditure survey after various international shopping surveys found that British prices are as much as 40% higher than those in the US and on the continent.
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