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Green Deal

Volume 528: debated on Thursday 19 May 2011

5. What steps he plans to take to ensure that householders who participate in the green deal scheme have access to an appropriate redress scheme in respect of any inadequate work carried out. (56255)

I refer the hon. Gentleman to the answer I gave the hon. Member for Newcastle upon Tyne North (Catherine McKinnell) some moments ago.

I thank the Secretary of State for his response. Without proper consumer protections, the green deal will become a white elephant, so can he further outline how the Government will stop the scheme becoming a cowboys’ charter, with unscrupulous suppliers preying on the most vulnerable in society?

Mr Speaker, I think I tested your patience with the length of my previous answer to a similar question, so I will not go through the list again, but we have put in place a substantial set of measures that will allow redress, including an advice line and all the normal protections, such as the ability to go through the small claims court and to the energy ombudsman. All of those are available to consumers. I agree with the hon. Gentleman on one key point: consumer confidence in this scheme will be absolutely crucial. We do not want any repeat of the sorts of examples there were when the Labour Government in Australia introduced a similar scheme, which was indeed a cowboys’ charter.

What discussions has my right hon. Friend had with the Office of Fair Trading, which will regulate green deal providers, to ensure that credit is only offered responsibly?

The credit will be regulated under the Consumer Credit Act, but the provisions are very clear. I do not think that my officials have had direct contact with the OFT, but it of course has an important monitoring role to ensure that those rules are observed.

Why, oh why, can the Government not learn from past success, such as what happened in Huddersfield and Kirklees with Warm Zone, which was a highly successful scheme? Why can we not take the best elements of that and put them into the current legislation to get the best possible option?

We are absolutely determined to ensure that, where a local authority wants to lead from the front with neighbourhood schemes of the sort the hon. Gentleman has mentioned, they are enabled, quite rightly, to go ahead. They will have access to the finance available under the green deal and I very much hope that go-ahead local authorities, whether in his constituency, in Cornwall or anywhere else in the country, will lead this exercise, because there are enormous opportunities. That is good for residents, for energy saving across the country as a whole and for local jobs.