Parliament – New lore on competition

Strong markets, modern companies and looking to the future are the three pillars of the new Department of Trade & Industry approach to competitive success, according to Margaret Beckett, President of the Board of Trade.

She said: “A strong competition policy is fundamental to competitiveness.

This Government’s Competition Bill replaces an outdated regime, with a modern, effective system. Our review of regulation for the utilities, the search for greater transparency, predictability and consistency in regulation, is also vital.

She added: “Only modern companies can address modern challenges. Of course managers need to manage but we believe that fair basic standards at work are key to a modern company in which the greatest asset a company can have is a creative and committed workforce. Modern companies succeed in new markets with new products – companies that are competing on our strengths in design, in science, in ideas – not on cheap labour.”

Beckett set out the basic principles guiding her approach. “We want forms of governance and company law that encourage companies to invest and grow, to take the long-term strategic view and a broad view of their obligations. They should also guarantee openness, transparency and accountability, not least in the relationship between shareholders and management.”

Beckett said: “Our third theme is the need to look to the future. “We can help or hinder the development of new firms, new ideas – keep them here or let them drift abroad. It is clear that we must embrace the industries of the future and in particular we must address the specific needs of smaller firms.”

She plans to establish a Future Unit within her department. “Its job will be to create a forward looking strategic focus,” she added. “It will start by considering whether our business support activities are properly focused to ensure that we are not overlooking new market opportunities.”

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