Clause 2 - The director general of fair trading

Enterprise Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 12:15 pm ar 16 Ebrill 2002.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

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

Photo of Miss Melanie Johnson Miss Melanie Johnson Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department of Trade and Industry

The clause will abolish the office of the Director General of Fair Trading and transfer his rights, property liabilities and functions to the new OFT that clause 1 creates. The Fair Trading Act 1973 established the statutory office of the DGFT, as the hon. Member for Eastbourne said. The office holds a wide range of consumer protection and competition powers, many of which are being reformed. In the light of those reforms, the Government believe that an individual should no longer hold the powers. We propose under clauses 1 and 2 to transfer the powers to a new statutory body with a board and a chairman. We already discussed the nature of the board and the expertise and knowledge that will inform its decisions.

As I said, the current DGFT agrees with the decision. He was appointed in the full knowledge that that was the Government's intention. As was set out in Mr. Vickers' letter of appointment, we intend to appoint him as the first chairman of the OFT for the remainder of his existing term. He has stated publicly that he wants to serve only one term, which covers his time as DGFT and chairman. Mr. Vickers has appointed an advisory panel to act as a shadow board that will provide him with advice on the OFT strategy, new policy developments, areas of research and debate, market analysis and communication. The panel is strictly advisory and lacks the executive powers that the new OFT board will have under the Bill. Nevertheless, it has provided useful experience prior to the move to a full board.

The abolition of the office of DGFT and the move to a statutory authority will benefit business and consumers. The new authority will be independent and have a wide decision-making base. It will be fully accountable to Parliament and the public, and will be able to act swiftly and effectively.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 2 ordered to stand part of the Bill.