New Clause 1 — Independent advocacy: report

Part of Prohibition of Unpaid Internships – in the House of Commons at 3:15 pm on 13th May 2014.

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Photo of Stella Creasy Stella Creasy Shadow Minister (Business, Innovation and Skills) 3:15 pm, 13th May 2014

The Minister expressed surprise that some of these issues should have been the subject of new clauses. I am sad about that. In her responses, she is missing some of the debates that we had in Committee on just these issues—not just on implementation but on the impact of the Bill on the public sector. I am saddened that she has not answered what I call the Graham Norton question about the licence fee. We will take that as a yes, meaning that licence fee payers will be entitled to these rights.

The Minister said that a review of complaints is ongoing and talked about the role of the public sector ombudsman. This is what is causing so much concern and has prompted the new clauses. That is happening at the same time as this legislation is making progress, so a whole series of new legal methods of redress will be open to licence fee payers, personal care budget holders and students paying tuition fees. At the same time, a secondary process is being undertaken in government. The situation is confusing.

I am pleased that the Minister’s understanding of consumer rights in the public sector—and what they can offer—is evolving. In that sense, I am happy to give her the benefit of the doubt in what she says about new clause 2 and the implementation group. I am sure that the Lords will want to hear about its further progress. I am also happy to give her the benefit of the doubt about advocacy. Her conversion to the importance of advocacy is welcome: it was not clear in Committee, but it is wonderful to hear her talking about it now. She has been dragged kicking and screaming to the debate, and I refer to the comments made by my hon. Friends the Members for Croydon North (Mr Reed), for Makerfield (Yvonne Fovargue) and for Rutherglen and Hamilton West (Tom Greatrex), and even Damian Hinds about the importance of advocacy and what more should be done in the Bill.

On that basis, I am happy not to press new clause 5 to a vote, but I will press new clause 3 and new schedule 1, given what the Minister said about information. I have to point out to the hon. Member for East Hampshire that the Government have admitted that the midata project has stalled. The look on his face spoke volumes about the problems of getting access to those data.

The Minister said that the Government thought that people should have access to the data they create within the public sector: the Opposition think that people should own their own data. It is a clear dividing line.

New clause 3 and new schedule 1 set out some clear rights for people. On nuisance calls, the Minister said the Government are already doing something. Why does she oppose paragraph 5 of new schedule 1, which would place sanctions on those people who do not have consent, to send a clear message to the companies that are abusing the information that they have? It is beyond me. The issue of ownership of data is key, so we will press new clause 3, which would bring in new schedule 1, to a vote. The British public should not just have access to their data; they should own it. It is a clear division between the two parties on consumer and citizen rights, and an increasingly important debate for this country. I beg to ask leave to withdraw the motion.

Clause, by leave, withdrawn.