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Madam Deputy Speaker: I am not aware of any request from the Home Secretary to come to the House. The right hon. Gentleman made a written statement but I am not aware of any other request. No doubt the matter is now on the record and will be noted.

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Braille Identity Cards

1.48 pm

Jon Trickett (Hemsworth) (Lab): I beg to move,

This is a modest proposal to afford a degree of protection to a particularly vulnerable group of consumers from rogue doorstep callers. I am thinking of those individuals who are visually impaired in some way.

There is widespread support across the political spectrum for including protection against rogue doorstep callers. There is a political will in the House and elsewhere to improve such protection. Many right hon. and hon. Members have constituents who have fallen victim to the activities of unscrupulous doorstep callers. Concern has been expressed in the House in a number of debates in recent times. Private Members' Bills have been introduced during the Session. My hon. Friend the Member for Pudsey (Mr. Truswell) tabled an early-day motion on this matter that attracted the support of more than 100 Members on both sides of the House.

The Bill that I seek leave to introduce has gained the support of more than 60 Members from all parties represented in the House, as well as from 20 organisations with a particular interest in the matters raised in the Bill. Organisations that support the principles underlying my Bill include the Jill Dando Institute of Crime Science, which seeks ways to design out crime, the Royal National Institute of the Blind, the Confederation for the Registration of Gas Installers—the national gas safety watchdog, to which I shall refer later—and the National Federation for the Blind of the United Kingdom, which is active in many constituencies.

The problem of rogue doorstep traders is significant. As recently as May, the Office of Fair Trading concluded that bogus trading was characterised by consumers being

I firmly believe that the informed consumer is a safer consumer, and programmes such as "Rogue Traders" and "Watchdog" help to increase consumer awareness. Last year, I supported a campaign by journalist Vivienne Parry in Woman's Own that sought to expose gas installers who were operating illegally. Such campaigns can play a huge role in helping to inform consumers about how they can protect themselves, and I pay tribute to everyone involved in exposing bogus activities. More, however, needs to be done because, despite the best efforts of campaigners, the OFT estimates that about 15,000 bogus trading cases are reported each year.

I discovered the full extent of the threat that rogue doorstep callers pose in my capacity as chairman of the all-party group on gas safety. At the very least, rogue callers rip off consumers, but those who undertake gas safety work can endanger lives. CORGI keeps figures on
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the problem that show that work undertaken by illegal installers has a high chance of incorporating a significant gas safety defect. Consumer protection for gas installation and other kinds of activity is literally a matter of life and death. It is vital that consumers be provided with the necessary information to help them protect themselves. The threat of exploitation is particularly acute for the most vulnerable groups in society, and I am pleased to report that many organisations are already working on innovative projects to increase protection for them. Mencap, for example, has worked with Energywatch to develop accessible communications for people with learning disabilities.

My Bill focuses on increasing information protection for visually impaired people, who are particularly vulnerable in their own home. It would introduce a requirement for all local authorities and certain regulated companies and organisations to include Braille on the identification that they provide for their employees or the people whom they register to go to consumers' homes. I am grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for Batley and Spen (Mr. Wood) for pointing out that only a small proportion of visually impaired people can read Braille, so my Bill will not solve completely the problems posed by doorstep callers. As well as Braille, organisations should consider other means of assisting visually impaired people such as the password scheme operated by some energy companies that gives consumers prior notification of doorstep calls and issues a password that callers use to identify themselves. The RNIB has clear print guidelines on the use of appropriate font type and size and good colour contrast. I urge other organisations to adhere to those guidelines, but Braille identifiers are an innovative, simple and relatively cheap way of making a difference, and should be pursued. Including Braille on identity cards allows doorstep callers to post their card through the door, enabling a visually impaired consumer to assess whether to open the door to them. The Braille identifier would provide much-needed assurance in what could otherwise feel like a threatening situation.

My Bill does not refer to the national identity card that my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary is considering, but particularly given his background, I hope that the Home Office will consider Braille
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identifiers as part of the national identity card scheme, if it is introduced. The model for it already exists, and Ministers should consider it carefully. CORGI, the national gas safety watchdog, has led the way in introducing Braille on its ID cards for all registered gas installers. There are about 98,000 of them, so that was not a small exercise, yet it was carried out successfully.

British Gas is considering the use of Braille on the ID cards of all its gas engineers who need to go into people's homes. That would be an excellent step forward and I urge British Gas to take it. CORGI, which is still the only organisation in the country using Braille on ID cards, has demonstrated that it can be done successfully, quickly and cheaply. All organisations should be encouraged to follow such a procedure. Given that most organisations periodically renew the ID cards used by their employees, often annually, the phased introduction of Braille seems entirely possible. The technology exists and I am told that it is quite cheap.

There is a rumour that, as the House rises on Thursday, my Bill may not become law. There may be some substance to that rumour, but I am introducing the Bill to raise awareness and stimulate debate in the House and elsewhere about simple and inexpensive measures, such as the use of Braille, that can be taken to protect the most vulnerable in our society from the most unscrupulous. The use of Braille has the potential to improve the information given to a particularly vulnerable group of consumers. I therefore urge the House to give me leave to introduce the Bill.

Question put and agreed to.

Bill ordered to be brought in by Jon Trickett, Mr. Bill O'Brien, Colin Burgon, Mr. Martin O'Neill, Mr. Tom Clarke, Mr. David Lepper, Peter Bottomley, Mr. Phil Willis, Mrs. Iris Robinson, Mr. Andrew Hunter, Mr. Fabian Hamilton and Rob Marris.

Braille Identity Cards

Jon Trickett accordingly presented a Bill to require all public authorities and certain regulated companies and organisations providing written means of identification to persons seeking to enter private residences to include braille information about those persons on the written means of identification; and for connected purposes: And the same was read the First time; and ordered to be read a Second time on Friday 19 November, and to be printed [Bill 180].

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Pensions Bill (Programme) (No. 4)

Motion made, and Question put forthwith, pursuant to Orders [28 June 2001 and 6 November 2003],

Lords amendmentsTime for conclusion of proceedings
Amendments to Part 1 (other than Amendments to Schedules 1 to 4)Thirty minutes after the commencement of proceedings on consideration of Lords Amendments.
Amendments to Clause 168; remaining Amendments to Part 2 (other than Amendments to Schedules 5 to 9); Amendments to Parts 3 and 4 (other than Amendments to Schedule 10)Two hours after the commencement of those proceedings.
Amendments to Part 5Three hours after the commencement of those proceedings.
Amendments to Parts 6 to 9 (other than Amendments to Schedules 11 to 13); Amendments to Schedules 1 to 13Four hours after the commencement of those proceedings.

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