Select Committee on Constitution Sixth Report


Sector Inception Current position Primary duties (secondary duties noted) Consumer body Appeals via:

Monopolies and Mergers Commission (MMC), initially the Monopolies and Restrictive Practices Commission until 1973 - powers extended by the Competition Act 1980.

Competition Commission: from 1999, following the Competition Act 1998. To conduct inquiries (as referred to it by OFT and other parties) into mergers, market operation and economic regulation of network industries. All interested parties, including consumer bodies, enabled to participate in providing evidence to inquiries - reinforced by super-complaint status following the Enterprise Act 2002. Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT)

Judicial Review

Competition and Fair Trading

Director General of Fair Trading, following the Fair Trading Act 1973.

Office of Fair Trading (OFT)

OFT: a board structure with executive chairman, with effect from 2003 - powers most recently odified by the Enterprise Act 2002, which ended ministerial involvement in merger and market investigations. A competition and consumer protection authority (eg, mergers and market operation), rather than a sectoral regulator (Ofcom, Ofgem, Ofwat, ORR and CAA apply Competition Act 1998 concurrently (2000)).

Specific responsibilities to ensure 'fit' persons hold consumer credit licences or are estate agents.

OFT does not have a role in seeking redress for individual consumers or front-line enforcement of consumer law (trading standards are the responsibility of local authorities). Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT)

Judicial Review

Appeal to Secretary of State for Trade and Industry re consumer credit licences

Health and Safety 1974:

Health and Safety Commission (HSC)

Health and Safety Executive (HSE)



To secure the health, safety and welfare of people at work; to protect the public against risks arising from work activities; to control dangerous substances. No consumer body - consults a wide range of special interests. Judicial Review

Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

Tribunals as appropriate

Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration

Environment Three main bodies:

National Rivers Authority (NRA) 1989

HM Inspectorate of Pollution

Waste Authorities (local authority responsibility)

The Environment Agency: from 1996 following the Environment Act 1995 in order to provide integrated pollution control. Duties include:

flood risk management; reducing industries' impacts on the environment (air, land and water); waste and radioactive management; managing water resources and improving wildlife habitats and fisheries.

No associated consumer watchdog, but consults statutory regional committees and national representative bodies, as well as the public generally. Magistrates Courts

Judicial Review

Secretary of State for the

Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA)


Financial Services

Financial services regulation dealt with by many bodies, including:

Building Societies Commission, Friendly Societies Commission;

Investment Management Regulatory Organisation;

Personal Investment Authority; Register of Friendly Societies; Securities and Futures Authority; Bank of England; Securities and Investments Board (SIB)

Financial Services Authority (FSA): from 1997 following the merging of banking supervision and investment services regulation into the Securities and Investments Board (SIB), which renamed itself the FSA. The Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 incorporated the other predecessor bodies. The four objectives are:

maintaining market confidence;

promoting public understanding of the financial system;

securing the appropriate degree of protection for consumers, while having regard to the general principle that consumers should take responsibility for their decisions;

reducing financial crime through regulated businesses.

Consumer PanelFinancial Ombudsman

Competition Commission

Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT)

The Regulatory Decisions Committee

Judicial Review

The Financial Services and Markets Tribunal

The Independent Complaints Commissioner

Communications and Broadcasting 1984:

Director General of Telecommunications

Office of Telecommunications (Oftel)

There were also the:

Independent Television Commission (ITC);

Radio Authority;

Broadcasting Standards Commission;

Radio Communications Agency of the DTI

Office of Communications (Ofcom): established 2002 with a board structure, empowered from December 2003 by the Communications Act 2003 - incorporating its five predecessors. To further[216]: the interests of consumers in relevant markets, where appropriate by promoting competition; the community as a whole in relation to communications;

by inter alia: optimal use of the electro-magnetic spectrum, wide availability of electronic communications services, high quality and varied television and radio services with standards to protect the public from offensive material and unfair treatment, and plurality of media ownership.

Consumer PanelCompetition Commission

Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT)

Judicial Review

Airports 1972:

Civil Aviation Authority (CAA)


Economic regulation of airports: from 1986 with privatisation of BAA.

Regulation of air traffic services - re National Air Traffic Services (NATS): from 2001 following PPP.

To further the reasonable interests of users of airports; efficient, economic and profitable operation; to encourage investment to meet demand; to impose minimum restrictions consistent with regulatory functions; to maintain a high standard of safety in provision of air traffic services.
Air Transport Users Council Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT)

Judicial Review

Energy 1986:

Director General of Gas Supply

Office of Gas Supply (Ofgas)

Gas and Electricity Markets Authority (GEMA): from 2000 following the Utilities Act 2000.

Office of Gas and Electricity Markets (Ofgem)

To protect[217]:

the interests of consumers where appropriate by promoting effective competition.

EnergywatchCompetition Appeal Tribunal (CAT)

Competition Commission

Judicial Review


Director General of Electricity Regulation

Office of Electricity Regulation (Offer)




Director General of Water Services

Office of Water Services (Ofwat)

The Water Services Regulation Authority: these provisions of the Water Act 2003 to be implemented from 2005.


To ensure[218]:

the functions of water and sewerage providers are properly carried out;

that companies are able to finance their functions;

and to further the consumer objective.

WaterVoiceCompetition Appeal Tribunal (CAT)

Competition Commission

Judicial Review

Rail 1995/1996:

Office of Passenger Rail Franchising (Opraf)

Strategic Rail Authority (SRA): from 2001 following the Transport Act 2000. To provide strategic leadership for the railway industry and ensure co-operative working; to secure the development of the railway network; to protect the interests of users of railway services; to let and manage passenger franchises to train operating companies on behalf of the Secretary of State. Rail Passengers Council Judicial Review

The Rail Regulator

The Office of the Rail Regulator (ORR)

The Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) with a board structure: from 2004 following the Railways and Transport Safety Act 2003. To protect the users of rail services (prices and quality);

to promote the use of the railway network, competition, measures to facilitate multi-operator journeys, and to impose minimum restrictions consistent with regulatory functions; to enable service providers to plan with reasonable assurance;

to facilitate the furtherance of SRA strategies.

Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT)

Competition Commission

Judicial Review

Postal Services 2000:

Postal Services Commission (Postcomm)

PostcommTo ensure[219]:

the provision of a universal postal service at an affordable and geographically uniform price.

PostwatchCompetition Commission

Judicial Review

216   With many associated secondary duties, including applying the principles of good regulation and best practice. Back

217   Secondary duties include to have regard to: all reasonable demands being met; the interests of disabled, chronically sick, pensioners, people on low incomes and rural residents; the ability of licence holders to finance their activities; social and environmental guidance issued by the Secretary of State; to secure a diverse and viable long term energy supply; to protect the public from danger. Back

218   Secondary duties include: no undue preference (cost-reflectivity); to promote economy and efficiency; to facilitate competition; to promote efficient water use; to have regard to the principles of best regulatory practice (including the principles under which regulatory activities should be transparent, accountable, proportionate, consistent and targeted only at cases in which action is needed). Back

219   To further the interests of postal users, wherever appropriate by promoting effective competition; to have regard to those who are disabled, pensioners, on low incomes or rural dwellers; to promote economy and efficiency and to ensure licence holders can finance their activities. Back

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