Clause 55 - Right to repeat performance

Consumer Rights Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 11:30 am on 6th March 2014.

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Photo of Stella Creasy Stella Creasy Shadow Minister (Business, Innovation and Skills) 11:30 am, 6th March 2014

I beg to move amendment 59, in clause 55, page 32, line 19, at end insert—

‘(1A) Where the quality of provision of services has been deemed to be hazardous or so poor as to cause the consumer to reasonably lose confidence in the trader’s ability to provide services which they would wish to purchase, the consumer may refuse a repeat performance and exercise their right to price reduction under section 56.’.

Photo of David Amess David Amess Conservative, Southend West

With this it will be convenient to discuss amendment 60, in clause 56, page 32, line 43, at end insert—

‘(c) the consumer has exercised their right under section 55(1A).’.

Photo of Stella Creasy Stella Creasy Shadow Minister (Business, Innovation and Skills)

May I wish the Committee good morning? I am sure that we will have some interesting debates today as we move on to questions about unfair contract terms. I am conscious that we have a lot of meaty subjects to get on with and a lot of things that we want to progress, so I want to give notice that as much as I enjoy the philosophical conversations that we have with the hon. Member for Braintree, perhaps we will do that at lunchtime, so that we can make progress now. That is a reflection more on me than on him; I want to be clear about that.

Amendment 59 is on a familiar subject that Opposition Members are concerned about. I have tabled the amendment to flag up again our concern that, in some instances, consumers will have had such a bad experience with a trader that to ask them to go through a repeat performance, rather than simply getting their money back, would not be appropriate. We want assurances that there is provision in the Bill so that in circumstances in which trust has broken down to such a great extent, consumers do not have to go back to someone who perhaps has behaved in a way that has put them at risk of personal injury, and certainly has behaved in a way that has made them so concerned that they do not want them back in their house.

Amendment 60 is simply a tidying-up amendment consequential on amendment 59. I do not intend to discuss it further, because we have made the concerns clear, but if the Minister could confirm that the  circumstances that I have described have been taken into account in the Bill, that would be welcomed by Opposition Members.

Photo of Jennifer Willott Jennifer Willott The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Women and Equalities, Assistant Whip (HM Treasury), The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills

Good morning, Mr Amess; it is nice to welcome you back to the Committee. I hope that the room is slightly warmer this morning than it was on Tuesday morning, when pretty much all of us ended up with our coats on.

As the hon. Member for Walthamstow said, the amendments relate to much the same issues as amendment 57, so I will keep my reply brief. I can only repeat the reassurances that I gave before and stress that we have consulted widely on the remedies and received broad support. The Select Committee on Business, Innovation and Skills looked at the remedies and recommended only minor changes, which we then made. There has also been support from both business and consumer voices. The British Retail Consortium told us that it agreed that our approach would be helpful to the extent that it is practical and realistic. There is general support for it.

As I also said previously, we agree that consumers should be protected from traders who would unnecessarily endanger their personal safety, and that they should not have to allow them back into their homes ever again if they do not feel happy with that. That is clearly the case, and that is why we are writing into statute in clause 54 that the consumer retains their access to common-law remedies as well. That is alongside protection in legislation such as the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, building regulations and so on, which we discussed on Tuesday. Given those protections and the protection built into clause 54, I hope that the hon. Lady is reassured.

Photo of Stella Creasy Stella Creasy Shadow Minister (Business, Innovation and Skills)

I thank the Minister for her answer. I am sure that the implementation group will also be discussing how to ensure that people are aware of that remedy, as well as the right to a price reduction. On that basis, I am happy to beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 55 ordered to stand part of the Bill.