Clause 38 - Section 37: supplementary

Enterprise Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 5:30 pm ar 30 Ebrill 2002.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

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

Photo of Jonathan Djanogly Jonathan Djanogly Ceidwadwyr, Huntingdon

This clause deals with the release and use of information relating to the preparation of the reports. We have discussed how the reports should be prepared and published and, under clause 36, I mentioned my concerns about the damaging effect of the release of confidential information through that process.

In her reply, the Under-Secretary mentioned that the OFT and the Competition Commission should be answerable to their decisions—hence the reports. I fully support that and have no problem with it but, under the Bill as it stands, it will simply be possible to release the information, and the damage will then be done. There is no way of speaking formally to the company before the release of the information so that it has a chance to object to the disclosure of particular parts which might damage its business. Why can a company not have the right to receive a copy of the full report before it is released to the public?

The Competition Commission would, of course, make its findings public in summary form, without the company having the chance to look at it in advance, which is quite right and proper. However, between the release of the preliminary findings and that of the full report, why should the company not be given a few days to review the full report, to ensure that the information in it will not damage its business? It should at least have the chance to discuss with the Competition Commission the damaging effect of any such information, with a regard to limiting that damage.

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

The balance is difficult to strike, but we think that we have found the right balance in all the measures covered in this clause and the earlier clauses relating to it. The 1973 Act is relevant to this clause, but companies will be required to undertake review by the Competition Commission. They will have to put forward their comments, which will be provisional findings, not conclusions. I trust that I have reassured the hon. Gentleman that we have the balance right.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 38 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 39 ordered to stand part of the Bill.