Mr. Field: I assure my hon. Friend that I was just turning round to listen to him and all that he had to say.
I am slightly intrigued by my hon. Friend's feeling that the substantial lessening of competition test is by
Column Number: 282necessity more competition-friendly than the dominant position test, and would be interested in him exploring that a little. Does he not agree that there might be instances in which the dominant position test is stronger for competition, especially in markets where there is one very large player and some smaller players? If any such strong player made a merger in the European arena, although, given that player's dominance, that merger might not necessarily fall foul of a substantial lessening of competition test, it would immediately become subject to a dominant position test.
Mr. Lansley: I am grateful to my hon. Friend. It is sometimes difficult to think such things through theoretically in the absence of particular cases, and I cannot immediately think of a particular case to illustrate his point. However, if he was referring to circumstances in which a dominant participant in the market were seeking to take over any of a number of smaller companies operating in the same market, although the dominance test would clearly apply directly, I think that substantial lessening of competition would also be relevant. Substantial does not necessarily mean large in scale in relation to the market. If it is perfectly clear that a market has less than good competitive features already, the further reduction of what competition there is in that marketplace would reasonably be interpreted as a substantial lessening of competition. It would be very difficult for a dominant company seeking to extend its dominance to argue that that was not the case. However, I am glad that my hon. Friend has prompted me to pursue that matteró
It being twenty-five minutes past Eleven o'clock, The Chairman adjourned the Committee without Question put, pursuant to the Standing Order.
Adjourned till this day at half-past Two o'clock.
The following Members attended the Committee:
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