As we reported in our e-bulletins in January and March, a Select Committee of the House of Lords has been inviting evidence on the work of economic regulators in the UK. This month sees the publication of the Competition Commission's views.
Key issues flagged by the Competition Commission include:
# Its inability to apply Articles 81 and 82 of the EC Treaty, with the possible result that the OFT holds back from making bigger market references, which may have a European dimension, to it.
# The infrequency with which it is called upon to consider regulatory references. The CC notes that there have only been two such references since 2002 (in relation to mobile phone termination charges and the five yearly reviews of the London and Manchester airports) and suggests that (in addition to the time and cost of references) the need to preserve ongoing relationships between regulators and regulatees may be a reason for the reluctance to make a reference. The CC does however note that the power of a threatened CC reference diminishes as more time passes without one.
The first deadline for submitting evidence to the House of Lords Select Committee has now passed but last week the Select Committee published an additional call for evidence, inviting responses by 1 June 2007.