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Consumer Protection

Volume 476: debated on Monday 2 June 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform whether the Government intend to take steps to improve levels of protection offered to consumers by legislation. (207099)

The UK already has one of the best consumer law regimes in the world. This has recently been strengthened by the introduction of the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008, implementing the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive, so as to provide a comprehensive approach to unfair commercial practices and close off loopholes in previous legislation. The Consumer Credit Act 2006 has brought in tough new protections against rogue lenders and debt collectors. The Consumers, Estate Agents and Redress Act 2007 will require all estate agents in the UK to belong to approved redress schemes dealing with complaints about the buying and selling of residential property, give enforcers greater powers to remove rogue estate agents from the market, and create a new, stronger and more coherent consumer advocacy body.

The Government are also planning to provide more rights for consumers who enter into contracts at home, by extending the right to the seven day cooling off period from unsolicited visits to include solicited visits.

The Government are currently undertaking a review of the consumer law regime that is:

examining the scope for simplification of existing legislation and enhancing flexibility and future-proofing while maintaining necessary protections;

exploring avenues to simplify and rationalise enforcement, allowing greater targeting of action on higher-risk sectors or business; and

investigating the options for improving consumer empowerment and redress.

We have launched a call for evidence, with views invited by 31 July.

Beyond legislation, the funding to the successful scambusting and illegal money lending pilots that target rogue traders has been extended. In addition, the Government have set up the Consumer Direct helpline to provide consumers with practical advice on resolving problems.