Queen’s Speech to focus on new consumer rights

THE GOVERNMENT is set to put shoppers at the heart of the proposals announced in this week’s Queen’s Speech, with consumer rights extended to online downloads and extra powers for Trading Standards officials.

Tomorrow’s speech in the House of Lords, which marks the opening of the new parliamentary year, will see the Queen announce a new Consumer Rights Bill – a move to simplify the process for shoppers who believe they have been wronged.

The new framework will extend to faulty videos, music, games and app downloads, in a move that consumer minister Jo Swinson said would make consumer laws fit for the 21st century and save the economy around £4bn over the next decade.

“We are fully aware that this area of law over the years has become unnecessarily complicated and too confusing, with many people not sure where to turn if they have a problem,” Swinson said. “We are hoping to bring in a number of changes to improve consumer confidence and make sure the law is fit for the 21st century.”

The Queen’s Speech will be pitched to voters as a move to help struggling shoppers, including other proposals such as new powers for Trading Standards officials, which will increase protection against rogue builders. Previous consumer-facing proposals such as minimum alcohol pricing and plain cigarette packaging have been put on hold.

Meanwhile, home secretary Theresa May’s Immigration Bill, which will make it easier for foreign criminals to be deported, as well as cutting entitlements to welfare, will be brought forward. The bill’s acceleration comes as the Conservatives aim to woo back voters who supported Ukip in last week’s local elections.

Other laws expected to be announced tomorrow include civil service reforms and simpler legislation for co-operatives.