The absence of a separate government department dealing with the interests and problems of the distributive trades can be viewed with mixed feelings. On the one hand, it is arguable that, because distribution is one of the more efficient sectors of the economy, has a good record of labour relations and is accountable to the public at large through the business of shopping, it is well able to look after itself and will act relatively responsibly in the absence of bureaucratic encumbrances. On the other, the fact that excess profits may be earned by certain groups, that spatial inequalities in shopping provisions can arise and shortcomings often occur in the quality of goods sold, suggest that some comprehensive monitoring and regulation are required. During recent years, there has in fact been a progressive increase in legislation directed towards the distributive trades, but because this has emanated from several different governmental quarters, it has tended to lack clear direction and effect. The two main themes that are most apparent concern attempts to extend the scope of consumer protection and to curtail the growth of monopoly powers. Some of the more recent major pieces of legislation to be introduced along these lines are listed in Table 3.1.