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

Just a minute. I think the hon. and learned Lady is probably exhausting herself by her interventions. I gave the House but one example yesterday, on the issue of Lufthansa. There is a body of opinion and evidence demonstrating the serious discrimination that goes on, although I make the point that European Court of Justice cases on this have gone both ways. However, I think it is very important that we are absolutely clear and certain—because it affects jobs, businesses and people who work for the companies concerned—that the national interests of the United Kingdom, in our mutual interests, are reflected in the decisions taken by whatever the competition authority may be. I know that the previous Administration had in mind the idea of providing for some special reserved powers, which this Government have now decided should be displaced to ensure that we have a proper system—with proper external and internal advice that will be provided by the new Office for the Internal Market within the Competition and Markets Authority—in order to guarantee that we can be world-beating competitors. We have to be able to trade across the world as we have done.

If I may say this to the very distinguished Scottish National party Members, I am sure that they will not forget that Adam Smith was the Scotsman who defined the whole nature of free trade and the ability to compete effectively. The tradition in Scotland has always been to support the ideas of fair and free competition, and that is the essence of these provisions. I am afraid that I cannot come up with an example from Wales, but I am sure there is one. What I can say is that the objects of the Office for the Internal Market will not override decisions made by the devolved Administrations. That is my understanding, and we will hear what the Minister has to say.

There is not a power grab going on. I know that SNP Members always want to get everything for themselves— a kind of power grab in itself—so I am not terribly surprised by their amendments, but this office will be independent in its ability to give fair, reasonable and proper advice to the Government. The Under-Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, my hon. Friend Paul Scully, is here now to answer these questions himself, but it seems that the whole arrangement would make enormous sense in the post-Brexit world where we will no longer be subjected to what I regard as predatory arrangements that are built into the undemocratic system whereby those who have the ear of the internal part of the European Commission get their way so often that we are discriminated against.

We will have our own system, on our own terms, in accordance with the decision taken by the British people in the general election last December, which endorsed the decision that was made in the referendum. I do not want to go through that whole argument from beginning to end but it is relevant to this debate, because when we do leave the European Union in all its shapes and forms, we will be in a position to make decisions in the interests of all the people in the Union and with regard to the importance of the devolved Administrations. The provision for the markets authority will be a very fair way of conducting our proceedings. This will serve everybody a great deal of good and we will all benefit from it.