Lib Dem amendment to give power to mobile phone users defeats Government in Lords

After two days of debate on the Article 50 Bill, the House of Lords turned its attention to the Digital Economy Bill last night – and inflicted a defeat on the Government as the Mirror reports.

The House of Lords backed plans to cap monthly mobile phone bills tonight as peers inflicted an embarrassing defeat on the Government.

Supporters say it will stop cash-strapped users seeing costs spiral out of control, barring them from making calls when they hit their limit.

Tory ministers hoped to block the move, which would let customers set limits on how much they can spend.

But the plan, written as amendment to the Digital Economy Bill, was approved 244-198 (majority 46) against the government’s wishes.

Lib Dem Lord Clement-Jones backed it, saying: “Mobile phone billing is one of the most complicated areas of domestic expenditure.

There may be in particular some danger of vulnerable customers getting into difficulty and it should be possible for a consumer to set a cap on expenditure on a mobile phone.

The amendment also makes it easier for people to switch mobile phone contracts. Tim Clement-Jones added after the debate:

The Liberal Democrats have beaten the government to create a fairer system in which the consumer rights of many millions of mobile phone users are put first.

Today’s vote will mean greater rights for the millions of people across the country who have a mobile phone contract.

The Government now has to decide whether it is going to fight against this proposal. Overturning this amendment will be a slap in the face to anyone who has had been tied up with an unjust and exploitative phone contract.

The Government suffered a second defeat on the issue of rural broadband. Tim Clement-Jones explains:

Many areas of the UK suffer from inadequate access to broadband and the Conservative government just don’t get how serious this is. It is quite right that they have been called out for setting woefully unambitious targets. It is not just about watching a film on Netflix, it’s about accessing medical services and benefits. It is also vital for the economy, especially in rural areas.

The link between good broadband speeds and economic growth around the world has been well established, but the Conservatives have constantly dragged their feet.

In government we pushed the Conservatives to invest more in broadband but they have never had their heart in it.

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