Clause 110 - Appeals in relation to penalties

Enterprise Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 12:45 pm ar 1 Mai 2002.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

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

Photo of Andrew Lansley Andrew Lansley Ceidwadwyr, South Cambridgeshire

Having roused myself, Mr. Beard, I just want to ask a question. I want to talk a little more about the Competition Appeals Tribunal, in relation to clause 114 and others. A specific decision has been made to use the CAT as an appropriate body. The structure of the tribunal, as the Minister will know, centres on expertise in competition law, rather than the general issues, although the president of the tribunal must be a senior lawyer. Is the CAT the best body to deal with the decision? Or would it be simpler for the decision on the appropriateness of a penalty of this kind, which is to be akin to a penalty for an offence, to be considered through the High Court in the normal way? The issue does not bite

directly on competition law consideration so much as the behaviour of individuals in receipt of a notice from a public body. It is of a generic kind in that direction, rather than of a specific kind in the competition direction.

Photo of Douglas Alexander Douglas Alexander Minister of State (e-Commerce & Competitiveness)

I suppose that that partly turns on one's understanding of the economic expertise of the CAT. It could be argued that a certain awareness of the importance of finance and economics would equip it well to make deliberations on the penalties of which the hon. Gentleman spoke. The substantive and serious point that must be addressed is how we achieve the maximum degree of expedition and certainty in the process. It is a mistake to move on to the grounds of philosophy—but that is the underlying thinking behind the Bill.

In essence, we believe that the CAT offers a cheaper and quicker remedy for the parties involved, and a more appropriate forum in terms of which fines can be determined, than involving a decision of the High Court or whatever would be decided by the alternative judicial forums in which those matters could be described. The whole thrust of the Bill is to try to provide a degree of certainty in terms of the route by which a case would be taken forward. I emphasise and echo the argument of the hon. Gentleman that someone of considerable distinction in terms of legal qualifications will be sitting in the chair of the CAT, which I think would deal with some of the concerns that he has raised about its ability to deal with such matters appropriately.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 110 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clauses 111 to 113 ordered to stand part of the Bill.