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Debt collection compliance monitoring and enforcement is being integrated into the OFT’s strategy for implementing the 2006 Act. From April 2008, the OFT will use its new powers to enforce compliance with the guidance. In the interim, the OFT is committed to working with industry, trade bodies and consumer advice groups with a view to
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securing improved compliance. The OFT will seek to do that through raising awareness of the guidance still further and of the good practice standards, as well as by making it easier to report and to investigate alleged breaches.

I am assured that the OFT will rigorously monitor compliance and raise awareness about the debt collection guidance and the standards of conduct we expect from licensees operating in this sector. I know that my hon. Friend the Member for South Derbyshire will expect me and the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform to continue to monitor how the work that I have set out in response to the issues he has raised progresses. I give him an assurance that I will continue to monitor that progress and that I am happy to write to him at an appropriate time in the new year to set out how things have moved forward.

More generally, I also encourage Members, consumer groups, advice agencies and individuals to raise any concerns they are aware of with the OFT using the complaints procedures to which I referred. As this case demonstrates, it is crucial that the OFT gets the evidence it needs to pursue investigations of malpractice in the sector.

I commend my hon. Friend for the way in which he has set out and pursued the case. I recognise that there are a series of concerns about what happened, and I hope that the action that I have committed to take offers him and the family of Mrs. Brazier reassurance that the Government take seriously the concerns that the case has raised. I have no doubt that he will continue to follow how we implement our commitments, and I look forward to a continued dialogue with him and, if necessary, with other Members about the issues that this case has raised.

Question put and agreed to.

Adjourned accordingly at twenty-nine minutes past Seven o’clock.

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