Bills info boost plan for consumers

Consumers will be given new powers to request information about their mobile phones, energy bills and credit cards to help them make sure they are getting the best deal.

The Government will add the new right to its Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill, the House of Lords heard.

The wide-ranging legislation contains a package of measures which ministers hope will boost British business.

Setting out the new proposals, business minister Lord Marland said: "To further benefit consumers we will be introducing a power to make it compulsory for suppliers of services and goods to provide to their customers on request their transaction and consumption data in a portable, electronic format.

"This will help consumers to make better decisions on products and services that offer them best value. The power will be targeted on certain sectors, namely energy, mobile phones, current account and credit card sectors but may well be expanded to other sectors if appropriate."

He said the Bill already contained a "package of measures that will get rid of unnecessary bureaucracy that encumbers business, that will improve the competition framework to ensure well-functioning markets and that will advance business and consumer confidence alike".

The Bill legislates to establish the Green Investment Bank, and gives binding votes on directors' pay to shareholders of UK companies.

It also makes changes to the employment tribunal system, which critics have claimed will give effect to some of the controversial proposals in venture capitalist Adrian Beecroft's report commissioned by the Prime Minister.

Business Secretary Vince Cable insisted he had "no truck with the idea of a free-for-all hire-and-fire culture" when he presented the Bill to the Commons.

But Labour spokesman Lord Stevenson of Balmacara said: "We do not take the view that the watering down of employee rights will boost demand but is highly likely to do the opposite, increase job insecurity and more likely to damage growth and consumer confidence than increase them."