Today we’re paying a visit to Parliament to lobby MPs to pick one of our suggested backbench Bills. Why? Because there’s a ballot to choose 20 MPs who will be allowed to put forward a ‘Private Member’s Bill’…
Usually 400+ MPs enter the Private Member’s Bill ballot, but who will the lucky 20 winners be? The result will be announced at 9.30am.
These 20 MPs have to decide what Bill they’ll publish by 2 July, with the top seven guaranteed debating time in the Autumn. There’s no guarantee that any of the Bills will become law but, despite this, they can be influential on government policy, as we saw with our own Bill last year.
In the last year’s Ballot, we were successful in persuading Lib Dem MP Mike Crockart to table our Bill to tackle nuisance calls. Although the Bill didn’t become law, it played its part in persuading the Government to take the problem more seriously and publish its own Action Plan earlier this year.
We also worked with Labour MP Paul Blomfield on his Bill to tackle payday lenders. This also didn’t become law, but it played its part in getting the regulators to do more on that issue. The timing is apt considering the news announced by the Competition and Markets Authority yesterday.
Bill 1: making complaints count
This year, we have three Bills to promote.
Our lead Bill is about public services and relates to our new campaign Making Complaints Count.
This Bill has a simple aim: to give people a greater voice when they’ve experienced problems with public services and thus improve the identification of systemic issues.
Bill 2: higher education information
Our second Bill is specifically about higher education, building on the work Which? University has done to give information to prospective students about their uni choice.
With tuition fees as high as £9k per year, prospective students should now be able to legitimately demand more information about higher education institutions and courses.
Often this basic information is not available, so our Bill would help address the information deficit by reforming the higher education ‘Key Information Set’, make sure graduate earnings data is published and require transparency of what tuition fees are spent on.
Bill 3: switching mobile provider
Our third Bill would make switching mobile phone provider easier and quicker. The current switching process requires you to get a code from your existing provider to then give to your new provider.
Our Bill would make your new provider responsible for managing the transfer of services, meaning that you’d only need to speak to them, as is the case with banks and energy companies. This ‘recipient-led’ switching is something that Ofcom has been trying to implement since 2007.
Now our job is to see whether we can persuade up to three of the 20 MPs who have won the ballot to introduce our Bills. We’ll know if we’ve been successful by 2 July and we’ll report back by then. Which of our three Bills would you most like MPs to take up and why?