Consumer Rights Bill — New Clause 3 — Access to Data from Service Providers to Inform Consumer Choice — 13 May 2014 at 15:15

Oliver Letwin MP, West Dorset voted against giving consumers a right to data relating to their use of a service provided by a regulated service provider.

The majority of MPs voted against giving consumers a right to data relating to their use of a service provided by a regulated service provider. The aim of the proposals rejected by the majority of MPs was to enable customers to make better informed choices. The rejected proposals would have applied to public and private sector organisations both as customers and service providers.

MPs were considering the Consumer Rights Bill[1]. A proposed new clause on Access to data was rejected in this vote. The rejected new clause stated:

  • Schedule [Access to data] has effect

The words [Access to data] would have been replaced by the number of the schedule had the amendment been passed and the proposed new clause been made part of a subsequent Act.

The text of the rejected new schedule was:

  • ‘Access to data
  • Information for consumers
  • 1. The Secretary of State shall report to Parliament within six months of Royal Assent of this Act setting out how consumers will have access to the information they require in order to make informed assessments of prices, charges and fees.
  • Supply of customer data
  • 2. A report under paragraph 1 shall include details of how the Government intends to—
  • (a) make regulations to require all regulated persons to provide customer data relating to transactions between the regulated person and the customer, as set out in section 89 (Supply of customer data) of the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013;
  • (b) enable third parties to make requests for customer data under section 89(1)(b) of that Act; and
  • (c) ensure customer data is provided in a form which enables the customer or third party to assess whether the price they are paying for a service is reasonable, which should have regard to section 89(7) of the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013. Designation of regulated persons and regulatory bodies
  • 3. A report under paragraph 1 shall—
  • (a)review which traders, including the activities of any government, or local or public authority, as defined by section 2 of this Act, shall be considered a regulated person under section 89(2) of the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013; and
  • (b)identify a relevant regulatory body to undertake the duties set out in paragraph 4 of this Schedule.
  • 4. A report under paragraph 1 shall include details of how the Government intends to require regulators of services which are provided by regulated persons, as defined in section 89(2) of the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013, to produce guidance on the implementation of section 89 of that Act.
  • 5. :Guidance produced for regulated persons under paragraph 4 shall include—
  • (a) how regulated persons should provide customer data;
  • (b) details on the ownership of customer data which shall include, but is not limited to—
  • (i) that customer data generated directly, at any point in the course of a contract, is owned by the customer;
  • (ii) that prior to any decision requiring the transmission of data in a format where the customer can be identified to a third party, direct consent of the customer as owner of the data must be secured; and
  • (iii) how regulated persons should recognise and publicise that such data is owned by the customer;
  • (c) how customers may consent to their data being shared with third parties under section 89(1)(b) of the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013;
  • (d) specify sanctions for traders who are not able to confirm the consent of the customer to sharing their data;
  • (e) measures to limit amount that may be charged for any such single request for data on behalf of multiple customers;
  • (f) how regulated persons, who hold data on customers on behalf of any government, local or public authority, can use this information to secure social and consumer benefits; and
  • (g) how regulated persons, who hold data on customers on behalf of any government, local or public authority, can contribute to a report under paragraph 7.
  • Access to information: public services
  • 6 . (1)The Secretary of State shall report to Parliament within six months of Royal Assent of this Act on how the Government intends to ensure that all consumers of public services, who have a direct role in commissioning them, are able to access information regarding any consumer contract or consumer notices which may reasonably be understood to apply to them.
  • (2) A report under sub-paragraph (1) shall have particular regard to—
  • (a) the access to information that consumers of public services require; and
  • (b) how access to information can ensure greater transparency on the work of traders.
  • (3) For the purposes of this paragraph, “public services” means the work of any government, local or public authority or traders offering services on their behalf.
  • Access to information: annual report
  • 7. (1) The Secretary of State shall produce and submit to Parliament an annual report setting out an analysis of the cumulative costs and benefits of Government decisions relating to the rights of consumers and protection of their interests.
  • (2) A report under sub-paragraph (1) shall in particular address the effect on—
  • (a) household consumption;
  • (b) vulnerable households; and
  • (c) any other subjects as the Secretary of State decides.’.

Introducing the proposed new clause and associated Schedule Stella Creasy MP said[3]:

  • I want to turn first to new clause 3 and new schedule 1, which new clause 3 brings into effect. The schedule refers to the first principle to which I referred—information. How do consumers get the information that they need to make the right choices for themselves the first time? We know that having access to more information is vital to empowering consumers.
  • The Government’s research, “Better Choices, Better Deals”, argues that if consumers were able to use price comparison sites more effectively, they could gain £150 million to £240 million a year. That is why the Opposition welcomed many of the ideas and intentions behind the midata project to give consumers more access to their information in a portable and accessible format. In Committee we expressed concern that, despite the project, four years on, it is not really working. There is a lack of information coming forward to consumers. The Minister defended the slow progress of the midata project, telling us that taking action now would prejudice the results of a review of the project that she has commissioned, and she did not think that that would be beneficial to the programme or, ultimately, to consumers. We have tabled the new clause and schedule because we fundamentally disagree. We want to go much further.
  • Currently the midata project covers four areas of consumer data, but we think that the power in the new schedule offers the potential for a framework for improving consumer and citizen access to data in a way that can transform outcomes and improve our consumer markets; that would be good for business and good for Britain.
  • We do not understand why the Government gave themselves the power, under the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013, to enact the midata project and yet have not done so. The first thing that new schedule 1 does, therefore, is put that power into effect to ensure that consumers get the information they need, in a portable and accessible format, about a key utility bill.
  • Every time we click, we create wealth—whether we are giving our contact details or browsing online, companies are harvesting information that drives their marketing and product development. Datasets such as store loyalty cards, medical records or tax affairs are an important and revealing resource for both the public and the private sector. Facebook is making more money than any of us can dream about from the content that we are creating. That stream of data should not be one-way. Citizens and consumers should have access to those data in a meaningful way, which allows them to start calling for the kind of products and services that they want.

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Debate in Parliament | Source |

Party Summary

Votes by party, red entries are votes against the majority for that party.

What is Tell? '+1 tell' means that in addition one member of that party was a teller for that division lobby.

What are Boths? An MP can vote both aye and no in the same division. The boths page explains this.

What is Turnout? This is measured against the total membership of the party at the time of the vote.

PartyMajority (No)Minority (Aye)BothTurnout
Alliance0 10100.0%
Con245 (+2 tell) 0081.3%
DUP0 2025.0%
Green0 10100.0%
Independent0 1050.0%
Lab0 204 (+2 tell)079.8%
LDem42 0075.0%
PC0 30100.0%
SDLP0 1033.3%
SNP0 5083.3%
Total:287 218079.3%

Rebel Voters - sorted by party

MPs for which their vote in this division differed from the majority vote of their party. You can see all votes in this division, or every eligible MP who could have voted in this division

Sort by: Name | Constituency | Party | Vote

NameConstituencyPartyVote
no rebellions

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