The Consumer Council's wish to have more legal teeth received a cool response from officials yesterday. Commissioner for Tourism Rebecca Lai Ko Wing-yee told Legco's economic services panel the Government would consider the proposal to allow the council to initiate court action on behalf of consumers. But she said: 'In other countries, investigation and law enforcement powers are vested in the Government and not in a non-governmental organisation such as the Consumer Council. We have to be careful.' The watchdog has proposed an amendment to the Consumer Council Ordinance to allow it to sue in its own name on behalf of consumers regardless of whether it has received a complaint. At present, it can only take court action on receipt of a complaint, after which it can file suit on behalf of consumers using the $13 million Consumer Legal Action Fund. The proposed power would allow the council to launch legal action in order to have certain terms of a contract declared ineffective or to obtain an injunction to stop unfair business practices, according to a submission to the Economic Services Bureau. Ms Lai was speaking to legislators on behalf of the bureau yesterday. The bureau has said it will discuss with the council the effectiveness of the proposal, the potential change to the council's role as an independent mediator and the impact on the business environment. Democrat Fred Li Wah-ming said: 'The Consumer Council has no investigative or law enforcement and prosecution powers - it is a toothless tiger. Without the investigative powers, you have no access to relevant information. How can you take court action?' But Liberal Party vice-chairwoman Selina Chow Liang Shuk-yee said: 'It is a major power. We need a lot of discussion in the community. We agree to a tightening of control on fraudulent acts, but should more power be conferred on the Consumer Council or some other organisation?'