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Thursday, 21 June 2012

Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill

This was introduced into the House of Commons on 23rd May 2012 and had their second reading on 11th June 2012 and the reforms to competition law are contained in Parts 3 and 4, as well as Schedules 4 to 14. The competition law reforms are part of a wider package of reforms which cover a Green Investment Bank, changes to employment law, certain measures aimed at reducing regulatory burdens in legislation, some changes to copyright law and provisions relating to the remuneration of directors. This is important because it first signals that competition policy is part of a broader package of measures aimed at deregulation and stimulating growth and also that it is possible that the Parliamentary passage of the legislation may be delayed because of concerns regarding other parts of the Bill. It was noticeable that the most of the controversy in the second reading debate surrounded the employment provisions of the Bill and there was little discussion of the competition provisions (http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201213/cmhansrd/cm120611/debtext/120611-0002.htm#12061114000001). At the moment, there would appear to be little difference between the government and the opposition on the competition aspects, as the Shadow Business Secretary, Chuka Umunna, has said that in principle the Labour party support the reforms to the competition law regime. Quite how easily the reform of the criminal cartel offence will go down, with the removal of dishonesty, remains to be seen as the CBI has already expressed its disquiet. As regards line by line scrutiny of the Bill, the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Committee has seven days set aside and must complete this phase by 17th July.

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