Consumer Scotland Bill - Call for Views

We would like to hear your views on the Consumer Scotland Bill.

In most cases we will publish your written submission on the Scottish Parliament’s website. What you send us may also be quoted in the Committee’s report or in its Committee meetings. These are public meetings that are broadcast online.

If you want your submission to be published without your name, please contact us at the following email address: [email protected]

Before making a submission, please read our privacy notice about submitting your views to a Committee Privacy Notice. This tells you about how we process your personal data.

Privacy Notice

The Bill was introduced in the Scottish Parliament on 5 June 2019 by Derek Mackay MSP, the Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Economy and Fair Work. The Bill and accompanying documents are available on the Scottish Parliament’s website.

Most consumer protection powers are reserved to the UK Parliament. However, the Scotland Act 2016 devolved the provision of consumer advocacy (lobbying organisations to take consumer interests into account) and advice to the Scottish Parliament. The Consumer Scotland Bill contains the Scottish Government’s proposals for implementing these newly devolved powers.

The Bill would create a new body – Consumer Scotland – with the power to advocate on behalf of consumers and to co-ordinate consumer advice. Its objectives, as set out in section 2 of the Bill, would be:

· reducing harm to consumers in Scotland;

· increasing confidence among consumers in Scotland; and

· increasing the extent to which public bodies in Scotland consider consumer matters. 

In exercising its functions, Consumer Scotland would be required to “have regard to the interests of vulnerable consumers” (Section 6(4) of the Bill).

The Bill would also place a new duty on public bodies to consider the impact of their policies on consumers.

We are keen to hear your views on the following questions – but you don’t need to respond to them all.

· What are your views on the Bill overall? How far do you think the Bill will achieve what it sets out to do? Are there gaps in the support currently available to consumers? How would Consumer Scotland fill these gaps? What priorities should Consumer Scotland have?

 

· The Scottish Government recognises that there are already many organisations working with consumers in Scotland. The Bill would therefore require Consumer Scotland to work in collaboration with other bodies where appropriate. How does Consumer Scotland fit in with other bodies operating in this sector? How could Consumer Scotland help streamline services? Will the legislative provisions ensure Consumer Scotland does not duplicate existing work?  

 

· The Bill would provide Consumer Scotland with powers to provide advice; represent the views of consumers; collect information; organise research; and carry out investigations. Scottish Ministers are able to add to, vary or remove functions as required. Do you think Consumer Scotland has the necessary powers to make a difference to consumers in Scotland?

 

· Consumer Scotland would have a duty to consider the interests of vulnerable consumers, including disabled, older, low income and rural consumers. Do you think the creation of Consumer Scotland will make a difference to your consumer problems, or the problems of the consumers that your organisation deals with?

 

· Most consumer protection powers are reserved to the UK Parliament. Consumer Scotland won’t be able to change reserved laws or require UK-wide bodies to do anything. Will this limit how effective it can be? How should Consumer Scotland tackle consumer issues which are affected by reserved powers?

 

· The Scottish Government intends that information about consumer problems will be widely shared between organisations so that action can be prioritised (see the Policy Memorandum, paragraphs 21 and 22). There are legal and organisational barriers to this sort of information sharing. Do you think it can be achieved in practice?

 

· The Bill creates a new duty on public bodies to consider the impact of their policies on consumers. How can Consumer Scotland ensure that this makes a practical difference to consumers? How do you think the duty should operate?

 

· Are there any other aspects of the Bill you would like to comment on?

How to submit your views

Your response does not need to cover all of the areas highlighted. You can just focus on the issues that are relevant to you or your organisation. You are also welcome to provide other information that you feel would be relevant.

Written responses should be sent electronically, in the template format, to the following address: [email protected]

Ideally they should be no more than four sides of A4.

Submissions Template

We welcome written views in English, Gaelic, Scots or any other language.

The call for views will close on 11 September 2019. 

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