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Clause 182 — Cartel Offence: Supplementary

Orders of the Day — Enterprise Bill – in the House of Commons at 7:52 pm on 30th October 2002.

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Lords amendment: No. 132, in page 132, line 33, leave out Xsection" and insert Xparagraph"

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

I beg to move That this House
agrees with the Lords in the said amendment.

Photo of Alan Haselhurst Alan Haselhurst Deputy Speaker and Chairman of Ways and Means

With this we may discuss Lords amendments Nos. 133 to 135 and 226 to 228.

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

These are a few minor and improving amendments to parts 5, 6 and 7 of the Bill. Clause 191 provides for professional privilege in respect of legal and banking material in the context of investigations of a cartel offence. Amendment No. 133 provides a different way of accounting for the equivalent in Scotland of legal professional privilege. This was a response to a point initially raised by the Opposition in the other place. The amendment means that the current Scottish custom and practice is properly reflected in the Bill. It follows the more recent precedent of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002, and provides a definition that corresponds more closely with Scottish practice.

Amendments Nos. 134 and 135 correct a technical defect in the provisions relating to competition disqualification undertakings. They make it clear that the OFT or a specified regulator can rely on its own judgment when considering whether a person is unfit to be involved in the management of a company. That requirement applies before it can accept a competition disqualification undertaking from an individual. In making its assessment, the OFT or the regulator will take into account the same considerations in relation to a director's conduct that a court would have to do.

Amendments Nos. 226 and 227 allow for the appointment of independent members to the Competition Commission's governing council. The addition of these independent members will strengthen the leadership of the Competition Commission, and reflects best practice in corporate governance. The council will now consist of a chairman, the deputy-chairman, the chief executive and one or more independent members.

Photo of Andrew Robathan Andrew Robathan Shadow Spokesperson (Trade and Industry)

We are discussing very important issues that perhaps require more airing than they have received in the past, especially since many of them were not even discussed in the Lords. Is it true that, because of the programming of discussion in Committee on the Floor of the House, cartels were not even discussed? If so, does the Minister consider that helpful?

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

We are here to discuss Lords amendments, and I am unable to comment in detail on previous consideration of the Bill. The question of what was discussed when is a matter of record in this House and in Standing Committee. The answer to the hon. Gentleman's question rests to a considerable extent on the way in which the Opposition used the time available to them.

Lords amendment agreed to.