CBI's concerns over Competition Bill dismissed

The Government has rejected most of the criticisms levelled at its Competition Bill by the Confederation of British Industry by pressing ahead with sweeping new powers to clamp down on cartels. Michael Harrison reports.

The Bill, published yesterday and due to receive its second reading in Parliament on 30 October, will give the Office of Fair Trading powers to fine companies 10 per cent of their turnover, forcibly enter premises unannounced and remove documents from firms suspected of operating cartels.

In addition, the legislation will introduce a blanket ban on abuse of dominant market positions by large companies and give consumers new rights to pursue and obtain damages against companies engaging in anti-competitive behaviour.

The CBI had condemned the legislation as "extreme" and draconian, warning it gave the OFT powers only paralleled by those that Customs officers can use to bust drug gangs.

The employers organisation had urged the Government to limit fines to a maximum of pounds 1m, make the test of abuse of dominant position much more specific and redraft the legislation so that consumer bodies could not appeal against decisions reached by the OFT.

But the Bill, in its final published form, contains few of the modifications called for by the CBI. The powers of the OFT have been slightly modified to prevent it launching surprise dawn raids and removing original documents without a warrant issued by a magistrate.

The Bill also goes some way to avoiding the "double jeopardy" of firms having to seek approval for some business agreements from competition authorities in both Brussels and London.

However, the Bill contains none of the fundamental changes sought by the business community. Officials said that the director-general of Fair Trading, John Bridgeman, would have to issue detailed guidelines on how the system of fines would operate and how it would assess abuse of a dominant position.

But the DTI refused to water down the OFT's powers arguing that the legislation was designed to act as a deterrent.

Outlook, page 25

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Content Writer - Global Financial Services

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: From modest beginnings the comp...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - PHP

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: From modest beginnings the comp...

Recruitment Genius: Field Sales Consultant - Financial Services - OTE £65,000

£15000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Loan Underwriter

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition

Orthorexia nervosa

How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
Lady Chatterley is not obscene, says TV director

Lady Chatterley’s Lover

Director Jed Mercurio on why DH Lawrence's novel 'is not an obscene story'
Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests

Set a pest to catch a pest

Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests
Mexico: A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life

The dark side of Mexico

A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life
Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde. Don't tell other victims it was theirs

Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde

Please don't tell other victims it was theirs
A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border