Clause 69 - Power of access

Part of Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 12:00 pm on 22 June 2023.

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Photo of Paul Scully Paul Scully Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Science, Innovation and Technology) 12:00, 22 June 2023

Government amendments 13 to 24 remove possible ambiguities about the scope of the power of access, and of a firm’s duty to co-operate with a skilled person, so that they are aligned with similar Digital Markets Unit information-gathering tools. Clause 69 allows the DMU to require firm-led tests or demonstrations under the DMU’s supervision. That backstop power of access will be available when a strategic market status firm fails to comply with an information notice or with the duty to assist a skilled person. Clause 77 introduces a power for the DMU to appoint a skilled person to produce a report on an aspect of an SMS firm, or a firm subject to an SMS assessment. There will be a duty on the firm to co-operate with the skilled person, including by giving them access to their premises.

These essential clauses ensure that the DMU has the right powers, but it is important to ensure that those powers are proportionate and appropriately constrained. Government amendments 13 and 16 limit the DMU’s power of access to business premises, rather than allowing access to all premises. That ensures that the power cannot be interpreted as allowing access to domestic premises and maintains consistency with the restrictions on the DMU’s powers of entry. Government amendments 17 to 20 and 22 are consequential.