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Banking Systems

Volume 455: debated on Thursday 25 January 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) if he will make a statement on the European Commission report on banks’ electronic payment and interchange; (117327)

(2) what the total cost has been of the Office of Fair Trading inquiry into the Principles of Interchange including Mastercard; when the inquiry is likely to be concluded; and what benefits to the consumer are expected as a result of the inquiry;

(3) how the Office of Fair Trading will ensure that the discounts interest in the interchange system between banks will continue to benefit consumers if the Office of Fair Trading’s inquiry recommends abolition of interchange;

(4) what steps he is taking to ensure that any principles of interchange recommended by the European Commission report will be aligned with recommendations from the Office of Fair Trading inquiry into the principles of interchange.

Government policy is not to comment on competition decisions made by the independent competition authorities either at EU or national level. This policy has been agreed at Cabinet level as the best way of ensuring these bodies’ independence.

Therefore these reports are solely a matter for these authorities. The hon. Member’s questions should be put directly to John Fingleton, Chief Executive of the Office of Fair Trading.