After being respectfully taken to task by Mark McDonald MSP after last week’s Worst Motion of the week post, I decided we’d have a Lib Dem FMQ style approach to these posts – two weeks on and 1 week off of worst/best motions. You know, in order to inject a bit of positivity into affairs given that’s what supposedly what this blog says on its tin. Not that I’m suggesting that FMQs are ‘worst’ when Lib Dems are involved and ‘best’ when they aren’t, of course.

And anyway, I looked for poor motions this week and there were none so that worked out rather well too. Maybe it’ll be more of an ad-hoc approach going forward, evolving as our MSPs’ motions improve or detiorate. We shall see.

Anyway, picking a winner was pretty straightforward this week. Step forward James Kelly, Labour MSP for Rutherglen, for this little beauty:

Motion S4M-00695 – James Kelly ( Rutherglen ) ( Scottish Labour ) : Nail the Rogues Campaign
That the Parliament believes that rogue traders have a significant impact on consumer rights and the informal economy in Rutherglen, Cambuslang and Blantyre and the rest of Scotland; notes, with concern, the recent figures released by the Office of Fair Trading showing that issues regarding home improvement work continue to be at the top of the list of complaints about rogue traders; further notes that, last year, Consumer Direct received more than 13,000 complaints concerning uninvited traders, almost half of which related to home maintenance work; is concerned that rogue traders have frequently been reported to offer services at what appear to be attractive rates and use persuasive sales techniques to pressure people into making hasty decisions; believes that older people and vulnerable groups are particularly exposed to the dangers of rogue traders, and commends the Federation of Master Builders Scotland, in conjunction with Trading Standards, for running the campaign, Nail the Rogues, in order to raise awareness of the dangers of rogue and dishonest traders, to offer advice for avoiding them and to provide information on how to find reputable traders.

Supported by: John Pentland, James Kelly, Kenneth Gibson, Jackie Baillie, Richard Lyle, Margaret McCulloch, Neil Findlay, Hanzala Malik, Bob Doris, Anne McTaggart, Drew Smith, Richard Simpson

Well said that man.

The problems with rogue traders is in danger of becoming the kind of inconvenience that nations put up with and don’t think they can really do all that much about. And yet, the financial and emotional impact on individuals and families must be horrendous and, furthermore, there is presumably no tax going into the state coffers with maintenance and joinery work when it is cowboys that are conducting it. I daresay the problem will increase as the economic woes continue too; I have noted companies are more anxious at getting cash in the door legitmately so why should it be different for those that raise revenue through illegitimate means?

I even (sort of) have recent experience of this as I was quoted a great price to fit my bathroom by ‘a friend of a friend of a friend’, it was almost unbelievably cheap, and, lo and behold, I’ve had problems with it ever since, the latest being the shower packing in once and for all this very week.

That experience is slightly different and not as bad as the horror of uninvited traders doing work and then basically bullying people into paying for it but it’s part of a wider issue that the Scottish Parliament is very well placed to address, and is the kind of issue that can attract cross-party support to combat, as the list of signees in the above testifies.

I would like to see fighting ‘rogue trading’ to be pushed out even wider – scrapping 0870 phone numbers north of the border for example as you shouldn’t pay a premium to contact your phone or utility company. That is exactly the type of policy area where I believe Scotland can lead and the rest of the UK may well follow, like smoking bans and minimum pricing.

A twin-win where people have more money in their pockets and there are more tax receipts going into the nation’s coffers (the UK’s and Scotland’s) is something well worth aiming for so, James Kelly, I salute you and I hope your motion goes all the way Sir.