Examination of witnesses (Questions 220
THURSDAY 7 MARCH 2001
QUIN and MR
220. You would be happy to send Covent Garden
naked into the battlefield?
(Ms Quin) As far as I know we do not send Covent Garden
naked into any forum. We work closely with the Market Authority
and I would have thought that was very clear from what I have
said so far.
221. To come back to my earlier point, it does
need investment and some pump-priming to get it into a really
effective, competitive situation against, say, the power of the
(Ms Quin) Let me say I think the market has in any
case shown a lot of initiative and enterprise in the way it has
brought in some new activities in recent years. Let me say too,
I hope I have made it clear that we are working with them both
on the immediate future and on the longer term in terms of disposal
of the market.
222. It is still comparatively minor.
(Ms Quin) I have not denied that. I have said at every
stage that it is subject to these legal and financial restraints.
223. It sounds to me strategicallyand
everyone agreesas if there is a co-ordinating role to be
played when one looks at long-term planning of markets in London.
Would Ministers be willing to discuss with the GLA who would lead
the co-ordinating role?
(Ms Quin) Certainly, but our main priority for the
moment is to discuss with the Authority itself its plans for the
224. Minister, are you conscious that the decision
which you will have to take as to whether to permit these new
activitiesface-to-face activities as you have described
themcoming to the market is not just a decision about the
future of Covent Garden and, in a sense, it is a statement about
how you see the London markets themselves developing? Would you
accept that is the case, that the implications are really quite
important about this issue; it is not a local decision?
(Ms Quin) I would accept that it does have competitive
implications for London markets.
225. So when you take that decision, in a sense,
the whole issue of the future of the markets is bound to come
into focus. Let us say you were to approve the installation of
new sorts of business at Covent Garden and then you would, by
doing that, be signalling a competition within the markets in
a sense which they do not at the moment have in that full competitive
sense. That would be true?
(Ms Quin) I accept that there are implications there
and for that reason I think we would need to look carefully at
what legal advice we received and whether or not, as a result
of that, further discussions needed to take place either with
other departments or other authorities.
226. If that were to be the case then the whole
issue of your relationship with Covent Garden and the whole programme
of liberating both itself and yourself from that tie might become
a more urgent matter?
(Ms Quin) Possibly but there is a commitment to early
legislation so I am not sure that it would materially affect that
227. I wanted to clarify that issue and just
to point out that I think the Committee would feel that that decision
is a hinge of where the future of markets lies.
(Ms Quin) I am not in control of how the Committee
interprets my answers.
228. Thank you very much for coming. I think
it has been an extremely helpful session. Are we due to see Joyce
again? It may well be but none of us know what manifestation or
status we will have when we next meet, at least in this sort of
forum. Thank you very much for being such a regular interlocutor
of the Committee and thank you very much, in particular, for coming
for this inquiry, which I think we have all found very interesting
indeed. We are going to, no doubt, wade our way through the next
batch of representations that shower upon us following today's
session. Thank you very much indeed and thank you Mr Llewelyn
for your supporting role.
(Ms Quin) Thank you very much.