Clause 69 - Power of access

Part of Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 12:15 pm ar 22 Mehefin 2023.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Alex Davies-Jones Alex Davies-Jones Shadow Minister (Digital, Culture, Media and Sport), Shadow Minister (Tech, Gambling and the Digital Economy) 12:15, 22 Mehefin 2023

The Opposition believe that clause 69 is crucial to the Government’s policy objective of empowering the Competition and Markets Authority, and ensuring that it can enforce its regime and proactively address the root causes of competition issues in digital markets.

The clause builds on clause 68 and gives the CMA the power to require a designated undertaking to obtain, generate, collect or retain specified information or to conduct a specified demonstration or test of a business system or process under the supervision of the CMA. Specifically, the power can be exercised when the designated undertaking has failed to comply with a previous request for information under an information notice or to provide sufficient assistance to a skilled person. We welcome those provisions. We also welcome the clarity provided by the clause about when the CMA can use the powers, which is when companies have failed to comply with other requirements. None of us wants the CMA to take an overly heavy-handed approach, but it must be compelled and empowered to act where necessary.

We understand that the powers in subsections (2) and (3) will be used rarely, but it is important that they be in the Bill. They are also an important step in ensuring that big strategic market status firms, which for too long have gone unregulated, cannot bypass the regime by concealing information or operating systems. It is vital that the Government do not give in here, so I urge the Minister to ensure that they do not. I imagine that there is heavy pressure from firms that will be captured by the provisions, but the Government must not cave in or weaken this regime; I hope the Minister can reassure us that they will not. That being said, we welcome the clause and have not sought to amend it at this stage.

Government amendments 13 and 14 clarify that the CMA’s access rights will be used only in relation to business premises. We see that as appropriate. Government amendments 15 to 23 are technical changes that we are happy to support. Government amendment 24 is an important clarification that limits duties to inside the UK, which again is a sensible inclusion that Labour supports.

Mr Hollobone, would you like me to discuss clause 70, or finish there?