Clause 28 - Functions of the CMA under this Part: general provisions

Part of United Kingdom Internal Market Bill – in the House of Commons at 2:15 pm on 15th September 2020.

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Photo of Bill Cash Bill Cash Chair, European Scrutiny Committee, Chair, European Scrutiny Committee 2:15 pm, 15th September 2020

What I can say for sure is that it will not be the European Union, and that summarises the argument in a nutshell. It is something I spoke about in the debate only yesterday, where I made it entirely clear that there is one thing we have to be absolutely clear about, and this Government, as compared with the previous Administration, have made it clear. In relation to that vast range of state aids that I mentioned yesterday—they are effectively decided by the European Commission and imposed on our own companies and our own internal economic sovereignty at the moment, but we are now going to insist on retrieving them, and we have retrieved them by leaving the European Union—the position is simply this: the manner in which the European Court and the European Commission operate needs to be revised, reviewed and abandoned for the purposes of ensuring that in the United Kingdom, we have a competition policy that enables us to be able to compete fairly, not only throughout the whole world, but also in relation to the European Union.

It is well known that the question of state aids, which goes across such a wide range of matters, as I mentioned yesterday, causes an enormous amount of problems in many sectors of the British economy. We have to be able to compete effectively. We have just heard a statement on coronavirus. The damage that has come about as a result of this uncontrollable—or virtually uncontrollable—disease, which has infected so many people, affects the operations of our businesses and has created a great deal of economic dislocation. We will need to be able to compete effectively throughout the world. This is a serious matter about a serious issue. What we cannot have, as I mentioned yesterday, is the situation that we have at the moment, which is where authorisations are given by the European Commission that either create discrimination against British businesses or have the perception or the potential for doing so. They will affect the voters in Scotland—and the voters in Sheffield, if I may say so. I was brought up in Sheffield. I saw what the European Coal and Steel Community did to the British steel industry. [Interruption.] I hear what Paul Blomfield says. The reality is that those businesses were driven out of business by, in many cases, unfair subsidies and unfair state aids that were given to other member states. I can give an example. I happened to know many people who worked at the coalface—I used to play cricket with them when I played for Sheffield—and I can tell Members that the Sheffield steelworkers, whom I also played with on occasion, sometimes it was rugger, found that they were very severely jeopardised by the massive state aids that were given to the German coal industry—it was as much as £4 billion—and authorised by the Commission. For a variety of reasons, we did not get the same kind of treatment here in the United Kingdom. This is all part of the problem of how to have fair and reasonable competition.