Amendment 14

Part of Product Security and Telecommunications Infrastructure Bill - Committee (1st Day) (Continued) – in the House of Lords at 7:47 pm on 21st June 2022.

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Photo of Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip), The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport 7:47 pm, 21st June 2022

I am grateful to the noble Lord and the noble Baroness for probing through Amendments 14 and 14A as tabled by the noble Lords, Lord Clement-Jones and Lord Fox. The amendments seek respectively to amend consumer protection legislation and clarify the relationship between this Bill and consumer protection legislation.

The Consumer Rights Act 2015 requires goods and services to be of a satisfactory quality, and the Consumer Protection Act 1987 imposes liability for defective products. Breaches of this Bill that meet the criteria of these Acts already entitle consumers to the protections they provide. This Bill focuses on the supply chain and what it needs to do to protect and enhance the security of products and their users. The security requirements will relate to processes and services, not just to the hardware of a product as the product safety framework does. It is not appropriate to retrofit the security requirements of this Bill’s regime into the existing framework of consumer protection legislation, which was generally designed to ensure that consumers have rights when products are unsafe—although, as I said, I appreciate the probing nature of these amendments.

Some security requirements will require ongoing action from manufacturers after they make a product available. It would be inappropriate to require traders to confirm one-off compliance with such requirements before contracts become binding. I acknowledge that existing consumer rights legislation will not always enable consumers to seek redress for breaches of the security requirements. I reassure noble Lords that this is not a gap. The evolving technological landscape means that the threats to consumers change, and we need flexibility to protect and compensate customers where that is necessary. The Bill, together with existing consumer rights legislation, already offers this.

Ultimately, this Bill mandates clear duties on the entire supply chain to ensure that products are more secure and that consumers are better protected. There are also robust enforcement powers to ensure that these duties are upheld. The point of the Bill is for the onus not to be on consumers to ensure that the security requirements are complied with. The enforcer will do this and, where appropriate, can recall products and provide compensation to customers, but the noble Lord and the noble Baroness both kindly suggested that I add this to the issues on which I will write ahead of Report. I am very happy to do so and to provide further detail in response to the probing—