Clause 30 - Delegation and conferring of functions

Energy Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 4:30 pm on 9th June 2011.

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Photo of Luciana Berger Luciana Berger Shadow Minister (Energy and Climate Change) 4:30 pm, 9th June 2011

I beg to move amendment 82, in clause 30, page 20, line 37, at end insert—

‘(6AA) Any order made by virtue of subsection (1) or (4)(b) must provide for—

(a) a single point of contact for energy services consumers seeking advice and redress;

(b) exercising of functions across energy services sectors to resolve consumer complaints involving one or more energy services; and

(c) sharing of complaints-handling data for the benefit of consumers, where “energy services” include—

(i) accredited energy services advice, including energy performance certificates and Green Deal advice services;

(ii) supply of energy or heating fuels, including gas;

(iii) energy efficiency services, including those delivered under the green deal or energy company obligation;

(iv) smart metering services;

(v) microgeneration systems;

(vi) domestic renewable heat systems;

(vii) district heating services;

(viii) other specified services.’.

In the interests of brevity, I will keep my comments short. The amendment was tabled before 2 June, which was when DECC published the document entitled “Consumer protection in the Green Deal”, and I am therefore seeking to flesh out two points. The first is about the announcement of the green deal advice line. I am keen to hear a few more details from the Minister about how he anticipates the advice line to operate and whether he envisages the Department or the private sector running it. How does he anticipate funding the advice line? What training will be given to those staff giving advice?

We have also heard about the formal appointment of the United Kingdom Accreditation ServiceUKAS—and I am keen to hear from the Minister exactly how it will ensure that assessors and installers adhere to robust standards in order to participate in the green deal. In the light of our amendments to clause 3, where we sought to change the wording from “may” to “must”, not passing, will the Minister assure us that both assessors and installers will adhere to the robust standards that I have mentioned?

Photo of Gregory Barker Gregory Barker The Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change

I thank the hon. Lady for bringing forward the amendment. However, the Bill already provides for independent green deal advice, which will cover both green deal finance and the energy company obligation, as well as—I am pleased to say—microgeneration. This will be capable of providing consumers with information about the rights and protections that are available to them, as well as the referral to the relevant ombudsman. Our aim is to make the green deal arrangements align with redress routes for other energy services in a coherent way that is accessible and transparent to the customer. We also recognise the role that sharing of complaints data can play in improving performance to benefit the consumer, and we will explore the detail of how that  can work with the OFT, with Ofgem and with the Financial Ombudsman Service.

In respect of the advice line, we will put that out to tender, and we are currently taking advice on the correct shape of that function. We certainly want to ensure that we learn from the previous services that were given by the likes of the Energy Saving Trust and the Carbon Trust on such schemes in the past, but we think that we can do better than the advice lines that have been offered in the past. That is why we are trying to put it out to tender to a wider group and take it to a higher level of consumer protection and advice. I hope that the hon. Lady has found that explanation reassuring and, on that basis, will withdraw her amendment.

Photo of Luciana Berger Luciana Berger Shadow Minister (Energy and Climate Change)

I thank the Minister for his reply and reassurance. I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 30 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clauses31 and 32 ordered to stand part of the Bill.