Things are getting back to normal at Keep Me Posted HQ after living out of a suitcase for the party conferences. However, that doesn’t mean we’ve taken our eye off the political agenda, and indeed we’ve been the subject of two House of Lords debates in the past two weeks, all about the Consumer Rights Bill.
The Bill is currently on its passage through the House of Lords, and is in its committee stage where amendments can be made. And it is these amendments that have tried to put into law the right of consumers to have a paper bill. Though both times the amendments’ proposers– Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts and Baroness Oppenheim-Barnes – withdrew their amendments, the message appears to be getting through to the Government. Indeed the Bill’s sponsor in the Lords, Baroness Neville-Rolfe, has agreed that a concensus has been established in the Lords that “some individuals value retaining the option of paper transactions”, and that “it is important that the appropriate protections on access to paper bills are kept in place”.
For us it is really good to hear the debate aired so openly in such a forum. And I believe, as Lord Blencathra put it so succinctly, “there are votes for whichever party defends consumer interest on this issue”. With a General Election looming next year, that couldn’t be more pertinent. Let’s hope some of the discussion on the doorsteps with the prospective MPs will be around your right to choose a paper bill. We’ll be talking to a lot of them in the run up, but you can do your bit by asking what they think of the issue when they knock at your door asking for your vote. The Consumer Rights Bill may be law by then of course – so we’re eagerly waiting to see what the final outcome is. Let’s hope it will be good news for those who think it’s every consumer’s right to have choice.