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

As ever, my hon. Friend’s eye for detail is second to none. I may take some advice on that and respond to him a little later, as I have to confess I am not entirely sure of the answer.

In conclusion, I would argue that there is no need to remove “materially affected” from subsection (2)(b) because a range of other important safeguards are in place to prevent abuse of the appeal right system, some of which I have set out. A further safeguard is provided by clauses 24(5) and 25(5). As the shadow Minister pointed out, those two subsections provide that the Competition Commission may refuse permission to appeal on the grounds that the appeal is trivial or vexatious, or has no reasonable prospect of success. So the Bill gives the Competition Commission the power to stop an appeal in its tracks if it has no merit and no prospect of success.

As drafted, clause 24 gives important rights to airlines to hold the regulator to account in relation to decisions that may have a significant impact on their businesses and their passengers. I do not believe that the Opposition made the case for the significant restriction in airline appeal rights, so I hope that, given this reassurance, they will withdraw the amendment—if they do not, I would have to ask my colleagues to oppose it.