Clause 24 - Appeal to Competition Commission: conditions of new licences

Part of Civil Aviation Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 11:15 am on 6th March 2012.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of John Woodcock John Woodcock Shadow Minister (Transport) 11:15 am, 6th March 2012

I apologise if the order of contributions is slightly unconventional; I probably should have been quicker on my feet. Amendment 22 uses the same text as amendment 5, tabled by my hon. Friends the Members for Blackley and Broughton and for Bolton West, but for a different—although I would say complementary—reason.

Given the concerns that we have discussed about the potential for vexatious or frivolous appeals over new licences, it is right that we should look to ensure that appeals on the modification of licence conditions should be suitably regulated. In particular, we believe that there is a strong case that the appeals mechanism should reflect the primacy of the duties that the Bill and previous Bills have placed on the CAA. We strongly support the Bill’s aim to orientate the CAA’s duties towards using economic regulation to promote airport users’ interests and towards promoting competition in the provision of airport operation services, along with the secondary duties, set out in chapter 1 of the Bill, which include ensuring the licence holder’s ability to finance their operations, promoting economy and efficiency on the part of licence holders, and meeting international obligations.

Given the importance of those duties, it could be a remarkable waste of time and resources if appeals were permitted against licence conditions intended to bring the CAA within those duties. Following the Bill’s passage, new and amended duties imposed on the CAA could require a significant number of licence modifications over the coming years, to bring the CAA’s operations in line with those duties. It could be damaging to the interests of passengers and freight shippers—as well as being contrary to the will of the House—if such modifications were then subject to lengthy and repeated appeals by either airports or airlines.

The amendment seeks to provide the Competition Commission with additional grounds to refuse an appeal request, permitting it to judge that should the appeal be granted, it would place the CAA in breach of its duties, as set out in the Bill. By proposing the amendment, we are seeking not only to protect the interests of airport users, but to provide additional force to the duties rightly placed on the CAA by the Bill.