Clause 1 — Office of Fair Trading

Part of Orders of the Day — Enterprise Bill – in the House of Commons at 5:45 pm on 30th October 2002.

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Photo of Andrew Lansley Andrew Lansley Conservative, South Cambridgeshire 5:45 pm, 30th October 2002

It is not just a question of complexity. Indeed, that complexity suggests that the technical nature of a problem might be understood better by an extremely able person such as John Vickers than by a board comprising some part-time members. The point of separating the roles of chief executive and chairman is to allow the chairman not to become immersed in detail. The chief executive needs competence when it comes to technical factors, but the chairman should be able to see the strategic wood rather than the trees. That is not to say that the chief executive should not have a role in strategy, but that can happen more satisfactorily if the chairman is distanced a little from the chief executive's responsibilities.

I had understood that that was the direction in which the Government wanted to go. Lords amendment No. 1 seems merely to reinforce that intention on the Government's part and is consistent with the structure of clause 1 and schedule 1. I am surprised, therefore, that the Government are resisting something that is in line with their intentions.