Enterprise Bill

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Miss Johnson: Why does the hon. Gentleman think that there may be more pre-clearance activity? I understand the point that he made but I do not understand why he made it.

Mr. Waterson: I hasten to say that it is not something that I thought of on my way into the Committee Room this morning; the point has been put to us by business, particularly the CBI. The CBI believes that if business realises that there is no real discretion for the OFT, apart from the areas that the Under-Secretary rightly touched on, mergers routinely will be investigated. A proportion of anticipated mergers are at present referred in advance, but that will now happen as a matter of routine; if it did not, companies might be caught out by what they will come to see as the automatic referral of mergers. The Under-Secretary should grapple with that concern.

Miss Johnson: I would be delighted to grapple with it, but I am not sure that there is anything to grapple with. Guidance is given confidentially in advance in some circumstances; there will be scope for parties to seek such guidance in future. I do not anticipate any

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change in the scale of initial guidance sought. I do not know why the hon. Gentleman thinks that that will change. The fact is that neither he nor anyone else can have his cake and eat it. If we are to have predictability, there must be rules within which certain things will normally apply. Business is keen to have predictability and we have had extensive discussions with business, throughout 1999 and 2000, on all the mergers material in front of us this morning. There has been considerable support for the general thrust of the proposals. Predictability is a key component of that support and it will be ensured by rules of the kind with which the hon. Gentleman seems to have difficulties.

Mr. Waterson: I think that I shall give up because we are talking at cross-purposes. I do not disagree with the Under-Secretary about the need for certainty and predictability but we think that that small element of discretion should be returned to the authorities.

Mr. Djanogly: Are we not discussing adaptability just as much as, if not more than, predictability? Circumstances may change and the legislation that we are now setting in stone should recognise that.

Mr. Waterson: My hon. Friend makes a good point. The law should not be set in concrete, although some predictability is obviously necessary. However, I was trying to get at a different issue; whether the rate of pre-clearances would go up significantly because of the provision. I have been unable to persuade the Minister that there is even a problem worthy of debate and, given that we have other issues on the clause and substantial points to make on the stand part debate, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Mr. Waterson: I beg to move amendment No. 211, in page 10, line 33, leave out from 'result' to end of line 35 and insert—

    'in the creation or strengthening of a dominant position, as a result of which competition may have been significantly reduced within any market or markets in the United Kingdom for goods or services.'.

The Chairman: With this we may take the following amendments: No. 123, in page 10, line 35, at end insert 'or

    (c) the creation of that situation has operated, or may be expected to operate, against the public interest.'.

No. 217, in clause 31, page 19, line 15, leave out from 'result' to end of line 17 and insert—

    'in the creation or strengthening of a dominant position, as a result of which competition is likely to be significantly reduced within any market or markets in the United Kingdom for goods or services.'.

No. 126, in clause 31, page 19, line 17, at end insert 'or

    (c) the creation of that situation has operated, or may be expected to operate, against the public interest.'.

No. 128, in clause 33, page 20, line 20, at end insert 'or

    (c) the creation of that situation has operated, or may be expected to operate, against the public interest.'.

No. 220, in clause 33, page 20, line 23, leave out from 'result' to end of line 25 and insert—

Column Number: 262

    'in the creation or strengthening of a dominant position, as a result of which competition may be significantly reduced within any market or markets in the United Kingdom for goods or services.'.

No. 221, in clause 33, page 20, line 28, leave out from 'result' to end of line 30 and insert—

    'in the creation or strengthening of a dominant position, as a result of which competition may be significantly reduced within any market or markets in the United Kingdom for goods or services.'.

No. 222, in clause 33, page 20, line 35, after 'preventing', insert—

    'the creation or strengthening of a dominant position, as a result of which competition may have been significantly reduced within any market or markets in the United Kingdom for goods or services.'.

No. 223, in clause 33, page 20, line 40, after 'preventing', insert—

    'the creation or strengthening of a dominant position, as a result of which competition may have been significantly reduced within any market or markets in the United Kingdom for goods or services.'.

No. 224, in clause 33, page 21, line 3, after 'practicable', insert—

    'the creation or strengthening of the dominant position, as a result of which competition may have been significantly reduced within any market or markets in the United Kingdom for goods or services.'.

No. 225, in clause 34, page 21, line 25, leave out from 'in' to end of line 27 and insert—

    'the creation or strengthening of the dominant position, as a result of which competition may have been significantly reduced within any market or markets in the United Kingdom for goods or services.'.

No. 129, in clause 34, page 21, line 27, at end insert 'or

    (c) the creation of that situation has operated, or may be expected to operate, against the public interest.'.

No. 226, in clause 34, page 21, line 32, after 'preventing', insert—

    'the creation or strengthening of the dominant position, as a result of which competition may have been significantly reduced within any market or markets in the United Kingdom for goods or services.'.

No. 227, in clause 34, page 21, line 36, after 'preventing', insert—

    'the creation or strengthening of the dominant position, as a result of which competition may have been significantly reduced within any market or markets in the United Kingdom for goods or services.'.

No. 228, in clause 34, page 21, line 43, after 'practicable', insert—

    'the creation or strengthening of the dominant position, as a result of which competition may have been significantly reduced within any market or markets in the United Kingdom for goods or services.'.

No. 231, in clause 39, page 25, line 11, leave out from 'prevent' to end of line 12 and insert—

    'the creation or strengthening of the dominant position, as a result of which competition may have been significantly reduced within any market or markets in the United Kingdom for goods or services.'.

No. 232, in clause 39, page 25, line 14, leave out from 'from' to end of line 15 and insert—

    'the creation or strengthening of the dominant position, as a result of which competition may have been significantly reduced within any market or markets in the United Kingdom for goods or services.'.

No. 233, in clause 39, page 25, line 23, leave out from 'to' to end of line 24 and insert—

    'the creation or strengthening of the dominant position, as a result of which competition may have been significantly reduced within any market or markets in the United Kingdom for goods or services.'.

Column Number: 263

No. 235, in clause 42, page 28, line 34, leave out from 'in' to end of line 35 and insert—

    'the creation or strengthening of a dominant position, as a result of which competition may have been significantly reduced within any market or markets in the United Kingdom for goods or services.'.

No. 239, in clause 42, page 28, line 34, leave out from 'in' to end of line 35 and insert—

    'the creation or strengthening of a dominant position, as a result of which competition may have been significantly reduced within any market or markets in the United Kingdom for goods or services.'.

No. 240, in clause 43, page 29, line 27, leave out from first 'of' to 'the' in line 28 and insert—

    'the creation or strengthening of a dominant position, as a result of which competition may have been significantly reduced within any market or markets in the United Kingdom for goods or services.'.

No. 241, in clause 43, page 29, line 35, leave out from 'result' to end of line 36 and insert—

    'the creation or strengthening of a dominant position, as a result of which competition may have been significantly reduced within any market or markets in the United Kingdom for goods or services.'.

No. 242, in clause 43, page 30, line 1, leave out from 'result' to end of line 3 and insert—

    'in the creation or strengthening of a dominant position, as a result of which competition may have been significantly reduced within any market or markets in the United Kingdom for goods or services.'.

No. 243, in clause 43, page 30, line 7, leave out from first 'of' to end of line 10 and insert—

    'the creation or strengthening of a dominant position, as a result of which competition may have been significantly reduced within any market or markets in the United Kingdom for goods or services.'.

No. 244, in clause 43, page 30, line 15, leave out from 'in' to end of line 17 and insert—

    'the creation or strengthening of a dominant position, as a result of which competition may have been significantly reduced within any market or markets in the United Kingdom for goods or services'.

No. 245, in clause 45, page 31, line 26, leave out from 'in' to end of line 27 and insert—

    'the creation or strengthening of a dominant position, as a result of which competition may have been significantly reduced within any market or markets in the United Kingdom for goods or services'.

No. 246, in clause 45, page 31, line 28, leave out from 'any' to 'concerned' in line 30 and insert—

    'the creation or strengthening of a dominant position, as a result of which competition may have been significantly reduced within any market or markets in the United Kingdom for goods or services'.

No. 247, in clause 45, page 31, line 43, leave out from 'in' to end of line 45 and insert—

    'the creation or strengthening of a dominant position, as a result of which competition may have been significantly reduced within any market or markets in the United Kingdom for goods or services'.

No. 248, in clause 45, page 32, line 1, leave out from 'any' to end of line 4 and insert—

    'the creation or strengthening of a dominant position, as a result of which competition may have been significantly reduced within any market or markets in the United Kingdom for goods or services'.

No. 249, in clause 45, page 32, line 26, leave out from 'be' to 'it' in line 27 and insert—

    'the creation or strengthening of a dominant position, as a result of which competition may have been significantly reduced within any market or markets in the United Kingdom for goods or services'.

Column Number: 264

No. 250, in clause 45, page 32, line 31, leave out from 'preventing' to end of line 34 and insert—

    'the creation or strengthening of a dominant position, as a result of which competition may have been significantly reduced within any market or markets in the United Kingdom for goods or services'.

No. 251, in clause 45, page 32, line 36, leave out from 'preventing' to end of line 39 and insert—

    'the creation or strengthening of a dominant position, as a result of which competition may have been significantly reduced within any market or markets in the United Kingdom for goods or services'.

No. 252, in clause 45, page 32, line 46, leave out from 'be)' to end of line 47 and insert—

    'the creation or strengthening of a dominant position, as a result of which competition may have been significantly reduced within any market or markets in the United Kingdom for goods or services'.

No. 256, in clause 53, page 38, line 21, leave out

    'substantial lessening of competition'

and insert—

    'the creation or strengthening of the dominant position, as a result of which competition may have been significantly reduced within any market or markets in the United Kingdom for goods or services'.

No. 274, in clause 69, page 50, line 29, leave out

    'the substantial lessening of competition'

and insert—

    'creating or strengthening a dominant position, as a result of which competition may have been significantly reduced'.

No. 275, in clause 69, page 50, line 36, leave out

    'substantial lessening of competition and any adverse effects resulting from it'

and insert—

    'the creation or strengthening of a dominant position, as a result of which competition may have been significantly reduced'.

 
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