A Critique of Trading Standards in Wales – Post-devolution Developments and Prognosis
This thesis investigates and critically evaluates Trading Standards (TS) delivery in Wales. TS enforces law to promote fair trading. It is delivered through local government in Great Britain. Successful enforcement protects legitimate business and consumers from economic and other detriment. Although not taken forward, the catalyst for the thesis was a 2011 Welsh Labour Party National Assembly for Wales (NAW) general election pledge to ‘seek to establish a national [TS] service’ for Wales.
Chapter 1 explains the thesis’ rationale. Chapter 2 considers the research strategy, design and implementation. Chapter 3 places TS in a critical theoretical framework, which includes reference to the rule of law, human rights and justice, and, in Wales, the promotion of well-being. Chapters 4 to 9 constitute the Literature Review.
Chapter 10 presents interview findings; six overarching themes emerged (including low TS profile and the damaging effects of reduced resourcing). Chapter 11 presents the surveys’ findings; overall TS has low-profile and its recognition was confined to consumer protection. Chapter 12 findings concern the specific Wales TS issue and, again, suggest that TS has low profile.
In Chapter 13 it is argued that there are significant failings in TS delivery and that, although not devolved, TS can contribute to devolved government. As TS is not devolved, Welsh Government can only undertake a limited review of TS delivery; undertaking such a review is the first recommendation. The UK Government is not so restricted and there is a second recommendation that it undertakes a fundamental review of TS (including considering whether the TS classification should be retained and, if not, how the constituent parts should be divided), with a further recommendation for a consequential review dependant on the fundamental review outcome.
Requisite ethics approval was obtained for primary research; this involved semi-structured interviews, surveys of candidates standing at two sets of elections (to the NAW and the office of police and crime commissioner), and Freedom of Information Act requests to local authorities in Wales concerning a TS specific issue.