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In the early and mid 20th century, many working and lower middle class families purchased larger appliances and items through hire-purchase schemes. These schemes allowed the purchaser to pay off larger purchases in instalments over a period of time. However, hire-purchase lenders often abused their position, charging excessive rates for items, setting harsh terms for repayment (enabling lenders to reclaim items with no notice) and charging large amounts of interest on payments. The Hire Purchase Act (1938) was initially proposed by Ellen Wilkinson. The Act restricted lenders from entering a purchaser's property without notice, and required lenders to clearly state the price of purchase and instalments on hire-purchase agreements. This Act was a significant support working and lower middle class families.
The De Montfort Project is an outreach project run by the Parliamentary Archives which explores the life and impact of local MPs and Peers on both their local area and at Parliament.