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Excessive Card Surcharges

Volume 547: debated on Tuesday 26 June 2012

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills is taking forward work on excessive credit card surcharges. I understand that the consultation to seek views on how and when a ban might be applied is going on in the summer.

For many years, families in my constituency have faced surcharges—sometimes 240 times the actual processing costs—when booking plane tickets. There are now charges on theatre tickets and utility bills and some funeral directors are applying them. Given the prevalence of this issue, does the Chancellor still intend to ban excessive debit and credit card charges by the end of the year?

The hon. Lady is absolutely right to highlight the costs imposed by this on our constituents. Our estimate was that in 2010 nearly £500 million was spent by consumers on surcharges. It is still our intention to ban them. Both consumers and businesses should be clear that after many years of inaction by our predecessors, it is this Government’s intention to ban these excessive charges.

The super-complaint was upheld in December last year. The Government have not even started the consultation that would be necessary to introduce this measure. Meanwhile, £8 million a month has been lost just by those suffering surcharges on flights from this country. When are we going to get some action?

As I said, we are going to publish a consultation this summer and take action to ban these surcharges as soon as possible after that. We should be very clear not only that we are going to ban them, but that some firms have already responded to the action we are going to take, with a number of them reducing their charges on credit and debit card use. That shows that even without legislative action, consumers are getting a better deal as a consequence of our policy.

This is a matter of very serious concern to our constituents. May I welcome the Minister’s commitment to tackling the payment surcharges and urge him to do whatever he can as soon as possible?

I am grateful for my hon. Friend’s welcome. I am working closely with the Under-Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, my hon. Friend the Member for North Norfolk (Norman Lamb), who is responsible for consumer affairs, to ensure that we act as quickly as possible to ban these surcharges and to deliver a better deal to consumers.