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Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform whether he has issued guidance to staff in his Department to switch off personal computers when not in use; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Thomas: Users are reminded to turn off their PCs when they leave the office. This advice is contained in the ICT Security Operating instructions which each member of staff is required to read and there is an annual reminder issued to them. For security reasons, any PCs inadvertently left on will go into an inactive mode after a preset time. In addition, in a few months time, we are planning to introduce a software facility that will automatically shut down any networked PC left on by mistake.
Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform under what legislation prosecutions can be brought against (a) incompetent builders and (b) rogue traders; what changes have been made to each since enactment; whether further changes are planned; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Thomas: Action can be taken by the Office of Fair Trading and trading standards against traders who mislead consumers, or use aggressive sales practices, under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008, or part 8 of the Enterprise Act 2002. Changes to legislation since enactment can be found through the UK Statute Law Database at:
Civil action can be taken against builders who have not carried out their contract with due care and skill by the person who has contracted for their services, under the Sale of Goods and Services Act 1982.
The Sale of Goods and Services Act falls within the scope of our current review of the consumer law regime. We are inviting views on the legislation, the way it is enforced and empowerment and redress for consumers. Views have been invited by 31 July 2008, the document is available at:
Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform how many complaints were made to (a) each local authority trading standards office and (b) his Department about (i) incompetent builders and (ii) rogue traders in each of the last five years. 
Consumer Direct is a Government backed telephone and online advice service managed by the Office of Fair Trading. It provides first stage practical advice on a broad range of consumer issues. It has been fully operational across Great Britain since October 2006.
|Total number complaints||Of which: related to general building work|
Sarah Teather: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what consumer protection legislation his Department has introduced to require (a) mobile telephone companies, (b) mortgage lenders, (c) insurance companies and (d) utilities companies to notify their customers of forthcoming changes in charging practices. 
Malcolm Wicks: The Office of Communications (Ofcom) General Conditions direct the way in which the telecoms industry is regulated. General Condition 10 on transparency and publication of information requires communications providers ensure that clear and up-to-date information on their prices and tariffs (not including bespoke or individual prices and tariffs), and on their standard terms and conditions, are published by sending a copy of such information or any appropriate parts of it to any end-user who may reasonably request such a copy; and by placing a copy of such information on their website.
on mobile mis-selling which proposes a new general condition on sales and marketing which among other things would require mobile operators to provide customers with appropriate information about the product/service at the point of sale (http://www.ofcom.org.uk/consult/condocs/mobmisselling/); and
on additional charges which included draft guidance on the fairness of terms covering additional charges, for example non-direct debit charges, charges to terminate a contract early or paying extra to receive a fully itemised bill (http://www.ofcom.org.uk/consult/condocs/addcharges/)
The Office of Gas and Electricity Markets (Ofgem) is responsible for the regulation of gas and electricity supply, including the rules governing notification of price increases. It is open to Ofgem to consider whether additional regulatory protection is required. From August 2007, following a two-year review by Ofgem of the standard conditions of supply licences, gas and electricity suppliers are required to provide their customers with notice within 65 working days of a price increase taking effect. Suppliers are required to remind customers of their right to terminate the supply contract within 10 working days if the customer wishes to transfer supplier in light of the price increase.
Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform whether the Government intend to take steps to improve levels of protection offered to consumers by legislation. 
The UK already has one of the best consumer law regimes in the world. This has recently been strengthened by the introduction of the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008, implementing the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive, so as to provide a comprehensive approach to unfair commercial practices and close off loopholes in previous legislation. The Consumer Credit Act 2006
has brought in tough new protections against rogue lenders and debt collectors. The Consumers, Estate Agents and Redress Act 2007 will require all estate agents in the UK to belong to approved redress schemes dealing with complaints about the buying and selling of residential property, give enforcers greater powers to remove rogue estate agents from the market, and create a new, stronger and more coherent consumer advocacy body.
The Government are also planning to provide more rights for consumers who enter into contracts at home, by extending the right to the seven day cooling off period from unsolicited visits to include solicited visits.
examining the scope for simplification of existing legislation and enhancing flexibility and future-proofing while maintaining necessary protections;
exploring avenues to simplify and rationalise enforcement, allowing greater targeting of action on higher-risk sectors or business; and
investigating the options for improving consumer empowerment and redress.
Beyond legislation, the funding to the successful scambusting and illegal money lending pilots that target rogue traders has been extended. In addition, the Government have set up the Consumer Direct helpline to provide consumers with practical advice on resolving problems.
Mr. Maude: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform for what reasons commencement of the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations has been postponed from the planned date of 6 April 2008. 
Mr. Thomas: The last stages of finalising the draft Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations took longer than expected with the result that businesses would have had little time to prepare had the Regulations been brought into force on 6 April as originally planned. Following a request, I thought it right and consistent with better regulation good practice to delay commencement to 26 May to give business a full 12 weeks to prepare from date the draft Regulations were laid before Parliament.
Mr. Maude: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what changes have been made to the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations since the draft regulations were published for consultation in 2007. 
(a) the term typical consumer has been replaced by average consumer wherever the former appear in the Regulations;
(b) the effect of a commercial practice on an average consumer now takes account of such a person having characteristics which include being reasonably well informed,
reasonably observant and circumspect as set out in Recital 18 of the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive (UCPD, Directive 2005/29/EC) which the Regulations implement; and
(c) the wording describing the circumstances whether the two variations of the average consumer test (the average member of a targeted group and the average vulnerable consumer) apply more closely follows that in the UCPD.
Mark Lazarowicz: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform if he will bring forward proposals to regulate the use of chip and pin at point of sale terminals. 
Mr. Thomas: The operation of the chip and pin scheme is an industry initiative that is not subject to legislation. However, in its approach to implementing the Payment Services Directive, the Government are considering provisions relating to the authorisation of payment transactions. Such transactions could include chip and pin point of sale transactions.
Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform whether the Ministerial Group on Over-indebtedness (a) has undertaken and (b) plans to undertake work on people with mental health problems who face financial difficulties; and if he will make a statement. 
(i) the Money Advice Liaison Group had agreed its best practice guidelines on debt management in relation to people with mental health problems and
(ii) the Finance and Leasing Association had introduced specific provisions in its Lending Code to ensure customers with long term health difficulties received appropriate assistance.
In addition, reforms to the consumer credit licensing regime, introduced by the Consumer Credit Act 2006, have given the Office of Fair Trading stronger powers to investigate and take action against rogue traders who lend irresponsibly.
Furthermore, the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008, which come into force on 26 May, provide additional protection for vulnerable consumers. Under these regulations, a commercial practice, such as aggressive or misleading sales techniques, may be found unlawful where it is likely to only adversely affect a clearly identifiable group of vulnerable consumers in a way which a trader can reasonably foresee, by virtue of mental or physical infirmity, age or credulity.
Mr. Brazier: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what the operating budget of the Defence Export Services Organisation was in (a) 2004-05, (b) 2005-06 and (c) 2006-07. 
Mr. Thomas: The net operating costs of the Defence Export Services Organisation in the financial year 2004-05 was £16.922 million. For financial years 2005-06 and 2006-07 I refer the hon. Member to the answer given by my hon. Friend the Minister of State for the armed forces on 17 July 2007, Official Report, column 196W to the hon. Member for Hornsey and Wood Green (Lynne Featherstone).
Mr. Jeremy Browne: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform pursuant to the Answer of 25 February 2008, Official Report, column 1166W, on departmental advertising, if he will provide the equivalent figures for (a) campaign and (b) recruitment advertising for the financial year 2006-07. 
Mr. Thomas: In 2006-07 the then DTI spent £581,424 on campaign advertising and £11,457 on recruitment advertising via the Central Office of Information. Detail of other advertising expenditure is not held centrally.
Mr. Weir: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform at how many events held by his Department (a) wine and (b) Fairtrade wine were served in the last three years; and what assessment his Department has made of the merits of serving Fairtrade wine at future events. 
Mr. Thomas: My Department does not have the information requested available and to produce this information would incur disproportionate costs. However, BERR has adopted a policy to use Fairtrade products within its catering operations and includes a clause within the contract specification with its catering service provider.
James Brokenshire: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform whether any officials in (a) his Department and (b) its agencies were disciplined or dismissed for (i) breaches of data protection requirements and (ii) inappropriate use of personal or sensitive data in each of the last three years for which figures are available. 
The Department collects data on officials who are either disciplined or dismissed relating to breaches of data protection requirements and also for inappropriate use of personal or sensitive data. The Department is unable to provide any data as in doing so we would identify individuals involved. In identifying an individual
or individuals the Department would be open to claims of breach of the Data Protection Act 1998.
Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform how many receptions he has hosted and funded in his capacity as Secretary of State in the last 12 months; which individuals and organisations (a) were invited to and (b) attended each reception; and what the cost was of each. 
Mr. Thomas: A summary list will be published by way of a written ministerial statement which will provide information of official receptions hosted by Ministers in this Department during the course of the financial year 2007-08. The Department will aim to do this before summer recess this year.
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