Clause 47

Part of Consumers, Estate Agents and Redress Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 11:00 am on 24 April 2007.

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Photo of Lorely Burt Lorely Burt Shadow Minister (Business, Innovation and Skills), Shadow Spokesperson (Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform) 11:00, 24 April 2007

I want to probe the Minister a little and get one or two assurances from him. Liberal Democrat Members are a little worried about multiple redress schemes, which, among commercial entities, may prompt a race to the bottom. Therefore, we are interested to know what the rationale is and how the Government will ensure that, if there are multiple redress schemes, they can adhere to a good minimum standard, to ensure that there is no race to the bottom.

We would like to know whether there will be an ombudsman scheme. We understand the logic in having the scheme for gas and water supplies, but we have one or two concerns about the Post Office, because the typical redress offered by the Post Office is a bookof first-class stamps. Given that the ombudsman or redress scheme will require evidence to demonstratethe problem, we are stretching our imagination to understand what the evidence might be in such small-scale complaints or problems that might apply. For example, if the Post Office has not delivered a  parcel, will someone need proof of posting? If the Post Office is closed, must someone stand in front of the CCTV and wave an envelope around before popping it into the post box as proof of posting?

If we are promising a redress scheme, people have the right to expect a redress scheme. We are getting rid of watchdogs, so redress schemes will have to be really good. Can the Minister perhaps give an example of a suitable redress scheme that might apply in the circumstances that I have outlined?