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

Part of United Kingdom Internal Market Bill – in the House of Commons at 5:00 pm on 15th September 2020.

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Photo of Tim Farron Tim Farron Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs), Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Communities and Local Government), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Housing, Communities and Local Government) 5:00 pm, 15th September 2020

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his intervention. We should be aware that, on top of the desire politically for greater regulated markets, which I absolutely welcome, there is also a desire to maximise profit. What do we do when we are trying to maximise profit? We reduce costs. What are regulations? Well, sadly, they often involve more costs. One of the benefits of the European Union is that we lock ourselves in to an understanding that there are common rules. If, within the United Kingdom, we create an in-built incentive for one part of the United Kingdom to reduce its standards and therefore automatically drag down the standards of the other three parts of the UK at the same time, we have made this possible. Indeed, I argue that, thanks to the laws of free-market economics, we have made it more than likely—we have made it almost certain.

The Competition and Markets Authority should be representative of all the nation. There needs to be unity in the decisions and not just in the implementation of the conclusions. I am afraid for the future of our United Kingdom. Do this Government want to be the Administration responsible for the disintegration of our Union, whether by negligence or design? That is where they are taking us. This Bill, through its inherent relegation of the importance of devolution, is a colossal step—a witless step even—towards undermining the unity of the Union. This Government have taken us out of one Union. We will not let them wreck another, which is all the more precious even than the one that we have left.