Skip to main content

Regulators: Statutory Duties

Volume 741: debated on Thursday 30 November 2023

8. If she will make a comparative assessment of the adequacy of the number of statutory duties of the Competition and Markets Authority and other regulators reporting to her Department. (900376)

The CMA has a primary statutory duty to promote competition both inside and outside the UK for the benefit of consumers, which provides the CMA with a clear, strong focus on delivering for consumers. In our recent steer to the CMA, we did point out how very important it is that it focuses also on economic growth.

Regulators such as the CMA have huge powers, so Parliament must give clear instructions about how those powers should and should not be used. Does the Minister agree that the CMA’s instruction is a model of the kind of clear and strong legal duty that leaves no doubt in regulators’ minds about the job that Parliament has asked them to do. Will he join me in pushing for equally clear and focused duties for other economic regulators where, sadly, the same cannot currently be said?

I thank my hon. Friend for his question and for his very important work in this area. I know that reducing the regulatory burden is a cause that is very close to his heart, and to the hearts of those in the Chamber today who supported his amendment in the recent Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers Bill. That view is also shared by myself and by the Secretary of State. We are very keen to make sure that, as well as ensuring that sectors are well regulated, our economic regulators focus on competition and economic growth.

I disagree. The Competition and Markets Authority is not only the dog that does not bark, but the dog that does not bite. We see multinational corporations and investment funds of such a size that they have more power than a sovereign Government. When will the Government give the CMA the powers and authority needed to tackle the corporate monopolies and cartels that have so much sway over our lives?

The hon. Member raises an important matter. That is why the Government are legislating in this space, through the Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers Bill, which gives the CMA huge new powers, particularly over some of our largest online platforms—platforms that have what we describe as strategic market status. This is world-leading legislation that will tackle many of the examples of detriment that he will be aware of and that he raises in his question today.