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Division No. 43
[1.18 pm


Ainsworth, Mr. Peter
Amess, Mr. David
Ancram, rh Mr. Michael
Arbuthnot, rh Mr. James
Atkinson, Mr. Peter
Bacon, Mr. Richard
Baron, Mr. John
Barrett, John
Bellingham, Mr. Henry
Boswell, Mr. Tim
Bottomley, Peter
Brake, Tom
Brazier, Mr. Julian
Brokenshire, James
Carmichael, Mr. Alistair
Cash, Mr. William
Clifton-Brown, Mr. Geoffrey
Crabb, Mr. Stephen
Davey, Mr. Edward
Djanogly, Mr. Jonathan
Dodds, Mr. Nigel
Donaldson, Mr. Jeffrey M.
Dorries, Mrs. Nadine
Duncan, Mr. Alan
Ellwood, Mr. Tobias
Evennett, Mr. David
Fabricant, Michael
Featherstone, Lynne
Foster, Mr. Don
Gale, Mr. Roger
Garnier, Mr. Edward
Goodman, Mr. Paul
Goodwill, Mr. Robert
Gove, Michael
Gray, Mr. James
Greening, Justine
Greenway, Mr. John
Grieve, Mr. Dominic
Hague, rh Mr. William
Hammond, Stephen
Harper, Mr. Mark
Harvey, Nick
Heath, Mr. David
Heathcoat-Amory, rh Mr. David
Hendry, Charles
Herbert, Mr. Nick
Hoban, Mr. Mark
Hollobone, Mr. Philip
Holloway, Mr. Adam
Hosie, Stewart
Hunt, Mr. Jeremy
Hurd, Mr. Nick
Jackson, Mr. Stewart
Jones, Mr. David
Kennedy, rh Mr. Charles
Lamb, Norman
Lancaster, Mr. Mark
Lansley, Mr. Andrew
Letwin, rh Mr. Oliver
Lewis, Dr. Julian
Llwyd, Mr. Elfyn
Main, Anne
Maples, Mr. John
Mercer, Patrick
Miller, Mrs. Maria
Milton, Anne
Murrison, Dr. Andrew
Newmark, Mr. Brooks
O'Brien, Mr. Stephen
Ottaway, Richard
Penning, Mike
Price, Adam
Prisk, Mr. Mark
Pritchard, Mark
Randall, Mr. John
Reid, Mr. Alan
Robathan, Mr. Andrew
Robertson, Angus
Robertson, Hugh
Robertson, Mr. Laurence
Robinson, Mrs. Iris
Robinson, Mr. Peter
Shapps, Grant
Smith, Sir Robert
Spicer, Sir Michael
Stanley, rh Sir John
Steen, Mr. Anthony
Swayne, Mr. Desmond
Swire, Mr. Hugo
Taylor, Mr. Ian
Taylor, Dr. Richard
Turner, Mr. Andrew
Vaizey, Mr. Edward
Vara, Mr. Shailesh
Villiers, Mrs. Theresa
Wallace, Mr. Ben
Waterson, Mr. Nigel
Widdecombe, rh Miss Ann
Wiggin, Bill
Willetts, Mr. David
Williams, Mark
Wilson, Mr. Rob
Winterton, Ann
Winterton, Sir Nicholas
Wishart, Pete
Wright, Jeremy

Tellers for the Ayes:

Andrew Selous and
Bob Russell


Ainger, Nick
Ainsworth, rh Mr. Bob
Anderson, Mr. David
Anderson, Janet
Armstrong, rh Hilary
Atkins, Charlotte
Austin, Mr. Ian
Bailey, Mr. Adrian
Baird, Vera
Balls, Ed
Banks, Gordon
Barron, rh Mr. Kevin
Bayley, Hugh
Benton, Mr. Joe
Berry, Roger
Betts, Mr. Clive
Blackman, Liz
Blackman-Woods, Dr. Roberta
Blears, rh Hazel
Borrow, Mr. David S.
Bradshaw, Mr. Ben
Brennan, Kevin
Brown, Lyn
Brown, rh Mr. Nicholas
Bryant, Chris
Burden, Richard
Burnham, Andy
Butler, Ms Dawn
Byrne, Mr. Liam
Caborn, rh Mr. Richard
Cairns, David
Caton, Mr. Martin
Cawsey, Mr. Ian
Chapman, Ben
Clark, Ms Katy
Clark, Paul
Clarke, rh Mr. Tom
Clelland, Mr. David
Clwyd, rh Ann
Coaker, Mr. Vernon
Cook, Frank
Cook, rh Mr. Robin
Cooper, Rosie
Cousins, Jim
Crausby, Mr. David
Creagh, Mary
Cryer, Mrs. Ann
Cunningham, Mr. Jim
Cunningham, Tony
Davidson, Mr. Ian
Dean, Mrs. Janet
Denham, rh Mr. John
Dhanda, Mr. Parmjit
Donohoe, Mr. Brian H.
Drew, Mr. David
Durkan, Mark
Eagle, Angela
Efford, Clive
Ellman, Mrs. Louise
Ennis, Jeff
Farrelly, Paul
Field, rh Mr. Frank
Fisher, Mark
Flello, Mr. Robert
Flint, Caroline
Flynn, Paul
Foster, Mr. Michael (Worcester)
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings and Rye)
Francis, Dr. Hywel
Gapes, Mike
Gardiner, Barry
George, rh Mr. Bruce
Gibson, Dr. Ian
Gilroy, Linda
Goggins, Paul
Goodman, Helen
Griffith, Nia
Griffiths, Nigel
Hall, Mr. Mike
Hall, Patrick
Hamilton, Mr. David
Hanson, Mr. David
Harman, rh Ms Harriet
Harris, Mr. Tom
Havard, Mr. Dai
Healey, John
Henderson, Mr. Doug
Hendrick, Mr. Mark
Heppell, Mr. John
Hesford, Stephen
Heyes, David
Hill, rh Keith
Hillier, Meg
Hodgson, Mrs. Sharon
Hoey, Kate
Hood, Mr. Jimmy
Hope, Phil
Hopkins, Kelvin
Howarth, Mr. George
Hoyle, Mr. Lindsay
Humble, Mrs. Joan
Iddon, Dr. Brian
Illsley, Mr. Eric
Irranca-Davies, Huw
Jackson, Glenda
James, Mrs. Siân C.
Jenkins, Mr. Brian
Johnson, rh Alan
Johnson, Ms Diana R.
Jones, Mr. Kevan
Jones, Mr. Martyn
Joyce, Mr. Eric
Kaufman, rh Sir Gerald
Keeble, Ms Sally
Keeley, Barbara
Keen, Alan
Kelly, rh Ruth
Kemp, Mr. Fraser
Kennedy, rh Jane
Khabra, Mr. Piara S.
Khan, Mr. Sadiq
Kidney, Mr. David
Knight, Jim
Kumar, Dr. Ashok
Ladyman, Dr. Stephen
Lazarowicz, Mark
Lepper, David
Linton, Martin
Lloyd, Tony
Love, Mr. Andrew
Lucas, Ian
MacDougall, Mr. John
Mackinlay, Andrew
Mactaggart, Fiona
Mallaber, Judy
Mann, John
Marris, Rob
Marsden, Mr. Gordon
Marshall, Mr. David
Martlew, Mr. Eric
McAvoy, rh Mr. Thomas
McCafferty, Chris
McCarthy, Kerry
McCarthy-Fry, Sarah
McCartney, rh Mr. Ian
McDonagh, Siobhain
McFadden, Mr. Pat
McFall, rh Mr. John
McGovern, Mr. Jim
McIsaac, Shona
McKechin, Ann
McKenna, Rosemary
McNulty, Mr. Tony
Meale, Mr. Alan
Merron, Gillian
Michael, rh Alun
Miliband, Edward
Moffat, Anne
Moffatt, Laura
Mole, Chris
Moon, Mrs. Madeleine
Morden, Jessica
Morgan, Julie
Mountford, Kali
Mudie, Mr. George
Murphy, Mr. Jim
Murphy, rh Mr. Paul
Naysmith, Dr. Doug
Norris, Dan
O'Brien, Mr. Mike
O'Hara, Mr. Edward
Olner, Mr. Bill
Osborne, Sandra
Owen, Albert
Palmer, Dr. Nick
Pearson, Ian
Plaskitt, Mr. James
Pope, Mr. Greg
Prentice, Bridget
Prentice, Mr. Gordon
Prosser, Gwyn
Purchase, Mr. Ken
Purnell, James
Robertson, John
Robinson, Mr. Geoffrey
Ruane, Chris
Ruddock, Joan
Russell, Christine
Ryan, Joan
Salter, Martin
Shaw, Jonathan
Sheerman, Mr. Barry
Sheridan, Jim
Short, rh Clare
Simpson, Alan
Singh, Mr. Marsha
Skinner, Mr. Dennis
Slaughter, Mr. Andrew
Smith, rh Mr. Andrew
Smith, Ms Angela C. (Sheffield, Hillsborough)
Smith, Angela E. (Basildon)
Smith, Geraldine
Smith, rh Jacqui
Snelgrove, Anne
Soulsby, Sir Peter
Spellar, rh Mr. John
Starkey, Dr. Phyllis
Stoate, Dr. Howard
Sutcliffe, Mr. Gerry
Tami, Mark
Taylor, Ms Dari
Thornberry, Emily
Timms, Mr. Stephen
Tipping, Paddy
Todd, Mr. Mark
Touhig, Mr. Don
Turner, Dr. Desmond
Turner, Mr. Neil
Twigg, Derek
Vis, Dr. Rudi
Walley, Joan
Wareing, Mr. Robert N.
Watson, Mr. Tom
Whitehead, Dr. Alan
Wicks, Malcolm
Williams, rh Mr. Alan
Wills, Mr. Michael
Winnick, Mr. David
Woolas, Mr. Phil
Wright, Mr. Anthony
Wright, David
Wright, Mr. Iain
Wright, Dr. Tony
Wyatt, Derek

Tellers for the Noes:

Mr. Dave Watts and
Mr. Frank Roy

Question accordingly negatived.

14 Jul 2005 : Column 998

New Clause 2

Access to Information

'(1)   Any notice served to a hirer or debtor under the provision of the 1974 Act shall be available in—

(a)   formats suitable for persons who are blind or partially sighted, or

(b)   languages other than English or Welsh.

(2)   It shall be the responsibility of the hirer or debtor to request a notice in a format as set out in subsection (1).'.—[Charles Hendry.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

1.30 pm

Charles Hendry: I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.

I am grateful to the Minister for the information that he provided me with in a letter yesterday in response to the many questions that I asked in Committee that he was unable to answer at the time. One of my specific questions was how any notice, such as statements of arrears or other statements, that lenders will be required to provide to borrowers under various clauses will be made available to visually impaired and blind people or those for whom English is not their first language. When I raised that issue in Committee, I sensed that it was something that the Minister and his officials had not thought much about. We should take the opportunity to provide greater clarity on what is expected of lenders in the way that they provide information to or communicate with their customers. That is an important issue that the Bill has left aside.

If we are trying to improve consumer protection by providing borrowers with further and more frequent information about their accounts, it is only right that all consumers have suitable access to it, regardless of any disability or barrier, such as language, that they may have. Thus we should ensure that such notices are
14 Jul 2005 : Column 999
available in formats such as Braille and alternative languages where necessary. The Minister said in his letter yesterday that the Office of Fair Trading would need to be mindful that it is meeting disability and language requirements, but that does not go far enough. Instead, we should make such things a necessity, which is what the new clause will do. That is surely only right to protect consumers against discrimination.

Such a step is also important given that the Bill enshrines the presumption of unfairness, rather than a presumption that an agreement is fair unless proven to be unfair. Lenders need greater clarity about what steps they should take if they are to prove, perhaps some years down the line, that they have acted fairly. The new clause would make it clear that lenders are expected to provide information in a way that is accessible to people who are blind or partially sighted and to provide it in alternative languages for people for whom English is not their first language. Crucially, though, in respect of the subsequent proof of fairness, the onus would be on the borrower to request the information in given format, not on the lender to know what special needs and requirements someone may have.

The new clause is important because the sorts of document required under the Bill are central to its workability. If people do not understand what they are signing up to in a credit agreement, if they do not understand the importance of the arrears notice or if they cannot read the OFT guidance issued to them, they will not be able to enjoy the full protection that the Bill is designed to offer them.

Even if the Minister accepts the new clause, I am conscious of the fact that other matters will be left out. For example, people with learning difficulties may not understand what they are being told in a written document about their rights as borrowers. The Independent recently published a letter by the Reverend Paul Nicolson, the chairman of the Zacchaeus 2000 Trust, who said:

I am afraid that I have been unable to draft an amendment that would address that issue. Perhaps we will have to rely on the expert and invaluable advice of the citizens advice bureaux to assist people, but that should not stop us taking action where we can and I urge the Minister to accept the new clause.

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