New Clause 1 — Independent advocacy: report

Part of Prohibition of Unpaid Internships – in the House of Commons at 2:45 pm on 13th May 2014.

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Photo of Tom Greatrex Tom Greatrex Shadow Minister (Energy) 2:45 pm, 13th May 2014

I rise to speak in support of new clause 4, which is in my name. Unlike other Members present, I was not familiar with this Bill until recently. I did not serve on the Bill Committee. The Minister may recall that I asked her an oral question two or three months ago about issues relating to warranties and additional warranties sold by retailers. My question arose not only from a specific constituency case, but from the related concerns of a number of constituents who have contacted me over the past three or four years.

In her response, the Minister drew my attention to this Bill, which was in Committee at the time, and suggested that I should look to it for comfort, so I did.

I also read the Committee’s debates on warranties. My hon. Friend Fiona O'Donnell is in her place and I recall from my reading of the proceedings that she raised some issues relating to electronic goods. She mentioned her experience in the past and I think she said that the situation may have improved since then. However, I tabled new clause 4 because of an experience that demonstrates that that is certainly not true in all cases.

My hon. Friend Stella Creasy has already referred to the implementation group, which seems to be the catch-all for everything that is going to happen at some unspecified point in the future. I understand that the intention behind the group is that it will ensure that legislated rights are translated into something meaningful for consumers. It is entirely right and appropriate for the new clause to seek to ensure that the implementation group should provide, at a specific point after the Bill receives Royal Assent, guidance on some specific issues.

Constituents tell me that what they are actually sold often turns out to be very different from what they were told they were being sold, particularly on additional or supplementary guarantees and warranties. A retailer will often tell them that what they are being sold will enhance their consumer protection and enjoyment of the product and provide them with a safeguard. It then turns out, however, that there is nothing more in the warranty than that to which they are already legally entitled or what is included in the manufacturer’s own warranty.