Select Committee on Constitution Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witness(Questions 40-42)



Lord MacGregor of Pulham Market

  40. Just a final follow up to my earlier line of questioning on accountability. You refer in paragraph 6 of your memorandum to the Competition Commission and judicial review and you briefly mentioned it subsequent to the line of questioning I was getting into. Could I ask you to what extent was the existence of both of those—the judicial review I imagine mainly on processing the fairness of decision taking but the other going much more deeply into whether you made the right judgment—the real constraint on your complete freedom of action? In other words, you knew there was a process of appeal and you knew that you could be accountable there and there could be a second opinion. Did you take that very much into account in the decisions you were taking?

   (Sir Ian Byatt) You take it very seriously because you know that somebody is quite likely to crawl over your decisions and you had better get them as right as you possibly can and I think the tremendous power in having the appeal, in the case of matters of substance, to a tribunal which is expert in that area The Competition Commission has built up expertise in going through a number of utility cases and of course judicial review is important. In my case it was not about process but whether I was properly carrying out my statutory duties.


  41. I presume also the point you stressed as well is the emphasis you placed on transparency, so making it available meant you would get a response which itself could be something of a constraint?

   (Sir Ian Byatt) Yes, we think that transparency is a huge constraint and a huge facilitator and I like to think it is one of the really big things that we did. I had been brought up in what was the somewhat secretive, you might say, tradition of the public sector and I was always rather irked about that and I was able to create something very different and I believe that was quite effective.

  42. Indeed. Sir Ian, I know you have got to be away. You have been extremely generous with your time. That has been extremely helpful to us. There may be other points we would like to follow up on but perhaps we could do that through correspondence in any event. May I thank you on behalf of the Committee for being with us this afternoon. That has been extremely enlightening and most helpful to us. Thank you very much indeed.

   (Sir Ian Byatt) Thank you very much.

previous page contents next page

House of Lords home page Parliament home page House of Commons home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2003