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Queen’s Speech 2017: did it deliver for you?

Queen's Speech 2017

After a tumultuous few weeks in British politics, the Government tried to introduce some certainty in today’s Queen’s Speech by setting out a big agenda of new legislation it wants to pass in the next two years. So what do you make of today’s proposals?

Of course, Brexit will dominate the agenda with eight out of the 27 Bills proposed. We’ve got the Repeal Bill, which should ‘lift and shift’ existing EU rules – including many consumer issues – into UK law. And alongside it, Bills to introduce new UK approaches on customs, trade, agriculture and more.

Queen’s Speech

Beyond Brexit, however, there was a distinct consumer flavour to a lot of the Bills and announcements that the Queen announced in Parliament today.

There are Bills to establish the new single Financial Advice Body and to better regulate Claims Management Companies, which have been a source of so many nuisance calls.

There’s also legislation on automated vehicles and electric cars, action on logbook loans, steps to update the ATOL protections when we go on holiday and plans to tackle unfair fees for tenants in the private rental market with the Draft Tenants’ Fees Bill.

Plus promised consultations on energy pricing, the homebuying process and leaseholds, as well as social care funding and quality.

Tackling CMCs

The action on Claims Management Companies (CMCs) is of particular interest to Which?. Our long-standing campaign on nuisance calls and texts has, in part, been driven by the volume of Payment Protection Insurance (PPI) and Personal Injury claims calls that CMCs have pestered us with over the years.

The Government announced a while back that it would move regulation of CMCs to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) – something that Which? supported. We hope that the FCA will bring a similar energy and rigour to regulating these firms to the way it has gone about regulating payday lenders.

But we want the Bill to go further. When we use a CMC to make a claim for PPI or a flight delay, why should CMCs take a cut of the compensation for consumers? Shouldn’t the company paying out the compensation take the hit? We want reforms to require businesses, rather than consumers, to pick up the costs of CMCs’ charges when they are at fault.

Energy action

The big question in advance of today’s Queen’s Speech was whether it would include a Bill to introduce the much-touted energy price cap. Now that the Government doesn’t have an overall majority, it’s clearly nervous about whether such a high-profile issue would get through Parliament unchanged.

Instead, the Government has decided to consult on the cap as part of a Consumer and Markets Green Paper. This was first announced right back in autumn 2016 and is also likely to include proposals to improve the home buying process as well as more action to make the telecoms market work for consumers.

More of a surprise was the inclusion of a Smart Meter Bill. This will give the Government much greater flexibility around how it will roll out these meters. Smart meters should ensure we have accurate energy bills, a better understanding of our energy use and make it easier to switch.

There have been grumblings for some time that the proposed deadline of 2020 to get these meters into homes would be missed. Nevertheless, a delay is worrying and the Government will need to swiftly reassure consumers that this won’t lead to bills increasing and that the roll out will be delivered in the most consumer friendly way possible.

Consumer priorities

With social care and energy prices the top two priorities for consumers for the new Government, it’s good to see commitment today to make progress on these issues.

We’ll be making sure that legislation, such as the Data Protection Bill results in action on consumers’ third priority issue – fraud and scams, which often happen as a result of misuse of our data.

So there’s a lot for Which? to be working on over the next two years to make sure these Bills really do result in the reforms we need to see to essential markets. But what do you make of today’s Queen’s Speech? Do you think the Bills and consultations will make a difference? Was there anything missing for you in today’s Queen’s Speech?


Thanks for this Convo, Pete. There is a lot for us to discuss in the Queen’s Speech.

On the point of smart meters, I’m not sure if Which? should be supporting the roll out. “Smart meters should ensure we have accurate energy bills, a better understanding of our energy use and make it easier to switch.” My last bill from e.on was £274.55. It would be very interesting to know if others are being kept well in credit. I would rather the surplus was in my bank account.

I have frequently read that moving from one supplier to another can mean that the display of a smart meter is no longer fully functional. No doubt we can have another ‘free’ one. Some competent organisation should have laid down a standard specification that all companies were required to use.

I do my best to avoid advertising but I keep seeing marketing for smart meters even though I inherited one when I bought the house. I presume that the cost of advertising is a significant contributor to the cost of the roll out.

Mariers says:
21 June 2017

Fropm what I have read, the “smart” meters will be paid for by the consumer, probably adding the cost to the bill, spread over a period.So we have to pay the utilities to find out in advance what the cost of our supply will be? Oh happy day!!


I am hoping that Which? will be supporting those consumers who do not wish to have a smart meter installed and urging the government not to make them compulsory.


At the very least, the adverts should make it clear that there is no need to have smart meters fitted and that the cost of their installation is payed for by all customers.

J N MURRAY says:
22 June 2017

I’m a voluntary worker for CAS & some of the info. we’ve received states that when electricity generation goes ‘phut’ the government, thro’ devious’ means can shut down using ‘smart meters’. Bet they didn’t say that in their publicity ‘blurb’!


According to Which?, smart meters will need to be replaced after about ten years, whereas conventional meters can remain in use for significantly longer. If you have an earlier smart meter it may need to be replaced with one that meets the requirements of the Data Communication Company. Never, mind, you won’t be charged for the smart meters (except that your bills will be higher).

No-one has to have a smart meter installed: http://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/advice/do-i-have-to-accept-a-smart-meter


There seems little real justification for the huge amount of money (our money, of course) being spent on introducing smart meters. Apart from automatic readings (putting meter readers out of jobs 🙂 ) I just don’t see people avidly watching their consumption and then making changes to their energy use; how many of us can intervene to make a significant change?

Energy cap – no thanks. Just sort out sensible tariffs – drop the subsidised fixed-term fixed-price ones to get standard variable tariffs to the realistic cost and put most people on those.

However, with limited expertise available , effort should be fully focused on reaching an exit from the EU that is as beneficial to us, and acceptable to the EU, as possible. It is one of the most important changes that our country will undergo since WW2. What I hope is that the silly political posturing ceases and politicians start working together for the benefit of the country, rather than for themselves and their parties. I’m really not interested in who is in power, who the PM is, providing whoever it is does a good and professional job of managing the country.


I don’t remember any public consultation prior to the smart meter roll out.

I would give smart meters to those who are in arrears or struggling to pay their bills to help them budget. Some people don’t have a good idea of how much electricity and gas is used by different appliances, etc.


I don’t know what public consultation would be. Without them knowing all the ramifications, costs, advantages of smart meters how can anyone reach a considered decision? And how many do you ask – a “typical” 2000 sample or a full scale referendum?

£11 billion to essentially get automatic meter readings? I’d rather let consumers keep the £500 a family it will cost them – how long before smart meters save them that money? Probably never; the thought of everyone sitting by their meter, switching appliances on and off to see how much they use, comparing one days gas use with another to work out….what? Sorry, i find it an expensive white elephant, made more so by puerile cartoons.

Perry says:
22 June 2017

I agree that there is little justification for encouraging people to have smart meters — I don’t want one because I can read the ordinary meters at any time. What we need is sensible tariffs. Perhaps less tax on energy for people who keep below a certain level of consumption would act as an incentive to save energy. Do people realize how much tax we pay on gas and electricity?


The vat component is 5% – around £50 on an average dual fuel bill. I believe under EU law vat has to be applied and this might be the minimum. There are other “taxes” – going under the guise of green energy for example all of which would need to be found from elsewhere if they were removed from your energy bill.

Many people have little option in the amount of energy they use, that any incentives cannot effect. Why penalise the unfortunate high users even more?

Castle says:
22 June 2017

It was the UK Government, (in 1994), which first imposed VAT on fuel for Domestic consumers; not the EU. Once imposed, it couldn’t be reduced to less than 5% under EU rules.

Kenneth Hyslop says:
21 June 2017

Her speech was about as pathetic as Teresa May running this country our country is in a mess