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 Sainsbury of Turville Lord Sainsbury of Turville Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Science and Innovation), Department of Trade and Industry, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Trade and Industry) (Science and Innovation) 5:45 pm, 15th October 2002

My Lords, that leads me to my next point. If one refers to a moral framework, one should ask what is the competence of the OFT to give views or, indeed, materials on a whole range of other issues. I should place the matter in a realistic context in terms of how it would operate in schools. I believe that our main concern is similar in that context. Citizenship is already taught in schools. It is for schools to decide what materials they use in educating their pupils and the appropriate context for those materials. The noble Lord, Lord Phillips of Sudbury, commented that citizenship covers a much broader area than simply competition. The noble Lord should not worry that this matter will be placed within an inappropriate framework. It is not envisaged that the OFT will allocate significant resources to providing educational materials specifically aimed at schoolchildren. Its efforts will be aimed principally at educating the public at large.

Although I have great sympathy with the viewpoint that has been expressed, if we introduce the other matters that are proposed, we distract the OFT from the job that it is competent to perform and from its important focus; namely, to inform the public with regard to competition. We risk taking the OFT into other waters. I accept that it is proposed that that should be done within a certain framework. However, the OFT should focus on informing the public of the benefits of competition as that is what it is set up to do.