Enterprise Bill

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Mr. Waterson: The Under-Secretary makes the valid point that the significance of the body, with all due respect to its likely members, has been downgraded; that may be the wrong word, but hon. Members know what I mean. I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendments made: No. 346, in page 229, line 5, leave out paragraph 3 and insert—

    '3 An appointed member shall hold and vacate office in accordance with the terms of his appointment (and is eligible for re-appointment).'

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No. 347, in page 229, line 10, leave out 'the appointed members' and insert 'any appointed member'.

No. 348, in page 229, line 24, leave out from beginning to end of line 32 and insert—


6 (1) The Service may, with the approval of the Secretary of State as to numbers and terms and conditions of service, appoint such staff as it may determine

    (2) The persons to whom section 1 of the Superannuation Act 1972 (c.11) (persons to or in respect of whom benefits may be provided by schemes under that section) applies shall include the staff of the Service.

    (3) The Service shall pay to the Minister for the Civil Service, at such times as he may direct, such sums as he may determine in respect of any increase attributable to sub-paragraph (2) in the sums payable out of money provided by Parliament under the Superannuation Act 1972 (c.11).'.—[Miss Melanie Johnson.]

Mr. Waterson: I beg to move to amendment No. 330, in page 229, line 34, at end insert—

    'subject to the principles of transparency, accountability, consistency and proportionality.'.

The Chairman: With this it will be convenient to discuss the following amendments: No. 331, in page 230, line 5, after 'anything', insert 'reasonably necessary'.

No. 332, in page 230, line 6, at end insert—

    'subject to the principles of transparency, accountability, consistency and proportionality.'.

Mr. Waterson: The basic thrust of the amendments raises an important point. The CBI, which suggested them, wants to ensure that procedures followed by the Competition Service complied with the five principles set out by the Better Regulation Task Force; namely, transparency, accountability, targeting, consistency and proportionality. To anticipate something that the Under-Secretary may say, we were not particularly excited by the amendments to begin with, and are even less so now—I cannot speak for my hon. Friend the Member for South Cambridgeshire—because of the way in which the role of the Competition Service has been changed. However, it is important that the amendments are raised and that we hear the Under-Secretary's comments.

Miss Johnson: The hon. Gentleman recognises that changes may have made this point less significant than it might have been before. The provision that the Competition Service may regulate its own procedure is required to provide the service with the power that it needs to organise its own affairs. In fact, it is an entirely standard provision. The Competition Commission has the same power under paragraph 5 of schedule 7 of the Competition Act 1998. The service also needs the power to do anything that is calculated to facilitate or is conducive or incidental to the performance of its functions. That is not a carte blanche for the service to interfere in the affairs of others but is another standard provision. Again, the Competition Commission has the same power under paragraph 8 of schedule 7 of the Competition Act 1998.

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Obviously, I agree that the principles suggested by amendments Nos. 330 and 332—transparency, accountability, consistency and proportionality—are all worthy. However, they cannot be delivered simply by writing down the words. In any case, there is a general requirement on the part of all public bodies to behave fairly. Equally, were the service ever to be the subject of judicial review, the court could consider whether it had acted proportionately. Therefore, we do not need to make specific provision for that. We are confident that we have put in place the necessary arrangements to ensure the accountability of the Competition Service. It will have an obligation to keep proper accounts and to comply with Cabinet Office guidelines as an executive NDPB. I hope that I have reassured the hon. Gentleman and that he will feel able to withdraw the amendment.

Mr. Waterson: In view of the time, I am happy to beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendments made: No. 349, in page 230, line 11, leave out ''the Commission or''.

No. 350, in page 230, line 13, leave out ''the Commission and''.

No. 351, in page 230, line 17, leave out from first ''the'' to ''financial'' in line 18 and insert ''Tribunal for each of its''.

No. 352, in page 230, line 39, leave out from ''employment)'' to end of line 41.—[Miss Melanie Johnson.]

Schedule 10, as amended, agreed to.


    That schedule 10 be transferred to end of line 14 on page 186.—[Miss Melanie Johnson.]

Clause 176

Annual report of Service

Mr. Djanogly: I beg to move amendment No. 335, in page 128, line 28, leave out ''so far as practicable''.

The Chairman: With this it will be convenient to take amendment No. 336, in page 128, line 30, leave out

    ''in its opinion seriously and prejudicially affect''

and insert—

    ''significantly harm the legitimate business interests''.

Mr. Djanogly: The amendments deal with exclusions from the annual report of the new Competition Service. Amendment No. 335 would delete the words ''so far as practicable'' in the second line. As I understand it, if the words are deleted, it would not be the case that the service necessarily must exclude the matters set out in subsections (a) and (b), but they must have regard to them. That is the key point. It is not an absolute situation but something that should be considered in every case.

The purpose of amendment No. 336 is to ask why decisions about what to publish and whether something harms a person's interest should be left to

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the Competition Service. We feel that that should not be the case. Indeed, the Competition Service may not actually know whether someone's interest may be harmed if information were to be released, so the new wording has been included. In such a situation, why should it not be the case—

Miss Johnson: Can I help the hon. Gentleman, as it is probably fair to do so? The Government intend to oppose clause stand part because we have tabled amendment No. 354 and we no longer wish to support the clause.

Mr. Djanogly: That being the case, should we make our comments in the clause stand part debate, following discussion of Government's amendments? I think that we probably should. On that basis I shall—

Miss Johnson: Can I correct what I said? I am sorry; I referred to amendment No. 354. That is not correct. None the less, it is correct that we want to remove the clause on the ground that it is no longer necessary. Therefore, I can save the hon. Gentleman time.

Mr. Djanogly: I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Mr. Djanogly: I shall leave it to my hon. Friend the Member for Eastbourne to ask why the clause is to disappear. I simply wanted to make one further point on the clause.

Will the accounts of the Competition Service, which are referred to in schedule 10, be published in the report? There is no reference to any financial figures being included in the report. I thought it would be helpful if the Government could clarify their intention.

6.15 pm

Mr. Waterson: I came in towards the end of the previous exchange. Is my understanding correct that there is to be no annual report because there is to be no clause 176? As we are all reaching for the same lever to pull the trapdoor on clause 176, perhaps we should let the Minister get on with it.

Miss Johnson: I am grateful for the hon. Gentleman's suggestion.

Mr. Djanogly: It might have been helpful if the Government could have presented their case before we spoke to our amendments. However, that said, I should be grateful if the Minister could explain how the financial figures set out in schedule 10 are to be released to the public if there is now to be no report.

Miss Johnson: This matter has become slightly confused, and I must accept some responsibility. As the Competition Service will no longer provide support services for the Competition Commission, we have decided to delete the provision and replace it with a clause that requires the Competition Commission to produce an annual report. It is not complicated. New

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clause 8 will be inserted into the Competition Act 1998. Therefore, I propose that the clause should not stand part of the Bill.

Question put and negatived.

Clause 177

The Commission

Amendment made: No. 355, in page 128, line 34, leave out subsection (1).—[Miss Johnson.]

Clause 177, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Schedule 11

The Competition Commission

Amendments made: No. 356, in page 232, leave out lines 10 to 12.

No. 357, in page 232, line 24, leave out from 'Commission''' to end of line 27.

No. 358, in page 232, line 34, leave out paragraph 6 and insert—

    '6 Paragraph 7(4) (approval of Treasury) shall cease to have effect.'

No. 359, in page 232, line 39, leave out paragraph 8 and insert—

    '8 In paragraph 9 (staff)—

    (a) sub-paragraph (2), and in sub-paragraph (3) the words ''and the President'', shall cease to have effect;

    (b) in sub-paragraph (4), for paragraphs (a) and (b) there is substituted the words ''the Secretary of State as to numbers and terms and conditions of service''.'.

No. 360, in page 233, line 3, leave out

    'Paragraphs 10 (procedure) and 12 (accounts)'

and insert 'Paragraph 10 (procedure)'.—[Miss Johnson.]

Question proposed, That this schedule, as amended, be the Eleventh schedule to the Bill.

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