Enterprise Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 5:45 pm on 15th October 2002.

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Photo of Lord Borrie Lord Borrie Labour 5:45 pm, 15th October 2002

My Lords, I have rather enjoyed the intra-party disagreement on the other side of the Chamber. I come down on the side of the noble Baroness, Lady Oppenheim-Barnes. I thought that the noble Lord, Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbots, was quite wrong to say that, in either the past or the future, it is intended that the OFT should "hold the ring". The OFT is a partisan body which determines whether there is a prima facie case that a matter requires investigation. Subsequently, someone else will do the balancing and hold the ring and reach a conclusion. In this Bill, for the very first time, there is even provision for something called a "cartel offence" in which the OFT, with the Serious Fraud Office, will be the prosecutor. It will be the courts, however, that determine whether that case is justified.