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

Part of Civil Aviation Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 11:00 am on 6th March 2012.

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Photo of Theresa Villiers Theresa Villiers The Minister of State, Department for Transport 11:00 am, 6th March 2012

That is a timely intervention. Not only does constraining the right of appeal to materially affected airlines provide a safeguard, because it limits the scope of the appeal process, but we have also included a number of additional safeguards in the Bill to address exactly the sorts of concerns raised by the hon. Gentleman. I will outline those safeguards, but there will be a further opportunity later to debate those safeguards in more detail.

Appeals will be adjudicative, rather than investigatory, which is an important restriction. The process will also be subject to strict time limits, and the Competition Commission may make an order for costs following its decisions, so an appeal will not necessarily be an entirely risk-free option. As I have said, the proper place for detailed debate on such concepts is probably during our consideration of later amendments, but if the Committee adopted the amendment, it would destabilise a carefully constructed compromise package on appeals that now commands significant support.

In its written evidence to the Committee, easyJet states:

“Airlines can play a…constructive and effective role through participating in an appeal process, not just initiating one.”

Virgin’s written evidence notes:

Virgin Atlantic has consistently supported the proposals for the Competition Commission to become an appellate body for CAA decisions, subject to the caveat that all parties with a material interest are granted the right to appeal.”