Clause 1 - Overview

Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 9:25 am ar 20 Mehefin 2023.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

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

Photo of Paul Scully Paul Scully Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Science, Innovation and Technology)

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Dame Maria, and to address the Committee today. I thank all its members for volunteering to serve on this Committee, and I look forward to our discussions over the coming days and weeks.

Part 1 of the Bill provides for the pro-competition regime for digital markets. This is a targeted regime that will establish new, more effective tools for the Competition and Markets Authority and, in turn, the digital markets unit. That will allow them to proactively drive more dynamic digital markets and prevent harmful practices.

Clause 1 is purely introductory and provides an overview of part 1. I hope that hon. Members agree that this clause will therefore assist readers to navigate this part. I will briefly explain some of the language I will use in this series of debates. First, the Committee will hear me referring to the digital markets unit, or the DMU, which is a new administrative unit of the Competition and Markets Authority—the CMA. While the legal functions of the regulator under part 1 of this Bill remain those of the CMA, in practice it is likely that most of the responsibilities under part 1 will be carried out by staff within the DMU. Therefore, for consistency and ease, I will be referring to the DMU throughout the debates. The exception to that is the merger functions in chapter 5 of part 1, which will generally be carried out by those staff who deal with mergers more broadly.

Secondly, I will use the words “firm” and “undertaking” interchangeably. “Undertaking” is the word used in this part of the Bill and is an economic concept that is already used in the Competition Act 1998. The concept of an undertaking covers any person engaged in economic activity, regardless of its legal status and the way in which it is financed. “Persons” may be corporate bodies, and an undertaking may encompass multiple corporate bodies when they form a single economic unit under competition law. The Government’s view is that an undertaking will often encompass the entirety of the relevant corporate group, but it may sometimes be a smaller subset of the corporate group.

I hope that that helps to clarify the language that the Committee will hear over the coming days.

Photo of Alex Davies-Jones Alex Davies-Jones Shadow Minister (Digital, Culture, Media and Sport), Shadow Minister (Tech, Gambling and the Digital Economy)

It is a genuine privilege to serve under your chairship, Dame Maria. I look forward to the weeks ahead. I imagine that the debates will be healthy but, in a real rarity for this place, relatively collegiate too. With that in mind, I will keep my comments on this clause brief. We all agree that this is an important that we will not seek to delay. Competition is vital to encourage innovation, and consumers deserve the best possible protections and value. We all want to get this right, and the Minister knows that. I want to say clearly that the Opposition welcome the Bill in principle. However, it will come as no surprise that we have some concerns that the Bill is lacking in some areas and could go further. We will explore those concerns in the hours and weeks ahead, and I look forward to debating the Bill further.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 1 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.