Clause 267 - Commencement

Enterprise Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 9:45 am ar 16 Mai 2002.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Nigel Waterson Nigel Waterson Ceidwadwyr, Eastbourne 9:45, 16 Mai 2002

I beg to move amendment No. 45, in page 181, line 9, at end add—

'(2) Parts 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 of this Act shall not come into force before 1st March 2005'.

It is relatively rare, I suspect, to seek to amend the commencement provision. Normally by this stage in the proceedings, members of the Committee are already fantasising about their next activity. I will not detain them long.

The amendment is designed to make the point—unless the Under-Secretary is with us on it, all we can really do of course is make a point—that, given how much feeling about the Bill's competition provisions has been expressed, both in our debates and, through Conservative Members, by business, industry and practitioners, it is very early to be revisiting such aspects of the competition regime. There are two main reasons for that. The first is the way that the European regime is developing, which could be different from developments in Britain, or vice versa. Secondly, and perhaps even more importantly, it is so soon after the Competition Act 1998 came into force.

The idea behind the amendment is to give everyone a sensible breathing space in which to continue to try to get to grips with the previous legislation and the implications of this further layer, as well as with what is happening in Europe, so that businesses can spend a bit of time on making profits and producing goods and services. That would allow for a specific period following the coming into force of the Competition Act.

Photo of Mr Tony McWalter Mr Tony McWalter Labour/Co-operative, Hemel Hempstead

I merely want to point out to the hon. Gentleman that, as of yesterday, fantasising is not permitted on the Labour Benches.

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

I am steering well clear of that subject.

The significance of 1 March is that it will be the fifth anniversary of the coming into force of the Competition Act 1998. I do not believe that there are any grounds for delaying important reforms to the UK competition regime. I realise that the hon. Member for Eastbourne (Mr. Waterson) is making a point, and I accept that point. However, I have explained to the Committee the rationale for our reforms, many of which we have debated at considerable length. I therefore urge the Committee to resist the amendment if it is put to a vote.

Photo of Nigel Waterson Nigel Waterson Ceidwadwyr, Eastbourne

I do not want to introduce a churlish note on the last day of the Committee's proceedings, so I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 267 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clauses 268 and 269 ordered to stand part of the Bill.