Examination of Witnesses (Questions 960-963)|
WEDNESDAY 5 NOVEMBER 2003
960. Following the memorandum of understanding
your responsibility is a sharing one in terms of the information,
making sure each is informed of what the other is doing while
maintaining your different responsibilities?
(Ms Boys) I think there are areas of work not related
to our independent decisions where it is sensible for there to
be close liaison with the department, for example in shaping future
legislation from Brussels. It is helpful for that to be informed
by our practical experience of how things need to be enforced.
(Mr Vickers) I would add that in the context where
legislation proposals are being developed, such as the current
review of consumer credit legislation, we have practitioner experience
which it is entirely sensible that we should lend to the process,
but ultimately it is Government which is responsible for which
legislation is brought to Parliament and it is for Parliament
to decide which legislation is enacted. There are other areas
too. I think one could imagine areas where a joint research project
would not be improper between OFT and DTI but that is very separate
from the case work, where we must be and be seen to be independent.
961. Indeed. Does your status as a non-ministerial
department have any bearing on your role? Are there particular
advantages which attach to that?
(Mr Vickers) I think the advantage of being non-ministerial
is that it should be clear to all that political considerations
do not enter a sphere where under the legislation they should
not enter. So it makes that clear to everyone. I think that does
have some advantage.
962. The fact that you are non-ministerial gives
you the independence. Does the fact that you are classed as a
department signify at all in a way which is beneficial?
(Ms Boys) There is the difference that we are vote-funded
and I hesitate to say whether that actually gives or creates a
sense of independence as opposed to those who are funded by licences.
963. Thank you very much indeed. That has been
extremely helpful. I am conscious we are up against time and you
need to be away, so we are very grateful to you both for your
paper and being with us this afternoon.
(Mr Vickers) Thank you, Chairman. I am
conscious that our paper is now several months old and quite a
lot has happened. If the Committee would like a revised paper
we would be more than happy to provide one.
Chairman: That would be extremely helpful. Thank
you very much indeed. We would very much welcome that.