Consumer Focus Wales

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 4:30 pm on 14th September 2011.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Mark Williams Mark Williams Liberal Democrat, Ceredigion 4:30 pm, 14th September 2011

I agree with the thrust of my hon. Friend’s remarks. Like me, he represents a vast rural area. Brecon, Radnorshire and Ceredigion are huge tracts of rural Wales. With the capacity of small organisations, inevitably facing financial constraints at the moment and curtailed by costs, I question their ability to reach out into those communities, despite the best of intentions. We will have to look closely at the resource transfer implications, if resources are going to Citizens Advice, to ensure that it has adequate resources to deliver what is expected of them.

I welcome the Government’s intention to expand Citizens Advice’s policy research team, but there is no certainty about retaining existing expertise to transfer it to that team. We need to differentiate between the advocacy role of the individual bureaux in our constituencies and the central role of collating information, to which my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff North alluded, providing Members of Parliament, other interested parties and the Government with holistic information that advances public policy.

Some excellent people work in Consumer Focus Wales, and they have developed a high level of expertise over the past years. There is no guarantee that those excellent people will be retained by a new model. I hope that I am wrong on that, if we move in a certain direction, but I fear the worst.