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CMA implementation doubts resurface

It must be catching, after Caroline Flint’s wilful disobedience towards the CMA, the Competition and Markets Authority Investigation into the energy markets, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Ed Davey fleetingly appeared to have joined the list of cgeneral election energyconscientious objectors to the investigation.

The CMA had been called to make the energy market a better place. However it can hardly do that when politicians are seemingly lining up to refuse to adopt its sage proposals

One wonders exactly what the point of the CMA was if it was to simply be ignored by all and sundry

Davey frightened the markets by saying of the CMA’s conclusions:

“I don’t think any government of any party should say they would be absolutely bound by them. I think that is going slightly too far.”

Interesting. So Ofgem calls for help to “fix the broken market”, in rides the CMA to the rescue, the CMA reveals the unpleasant truth that it isn’t all the suppliers fault, cue for the politicians vow to ignore their findings.

The inconvenient truth anyone?

Quite what motivational impact that scenario would have on the investigators themselves is questionable in the extreme but then Davey added some much needed context by going on to say:

“[Any government] would have to have extremely good reasons for not adopting them. And they would have [to] – in the court of public opinion and in parliament – justify why they aren’t accepting the CMAs recommendations. [The recommendations] need to be taken very, very seriously”.

Warming to his theme Davey went on to pillory Flint’s assertions saying:

“[Labour] are saying they know better than these people who have been doing all this work, saying they’re going to press ahead with their policy regardless.

“I think that is a shocking way of showing how you are going to govern a country. Absolutely shocking.”

Davey’s thoughts were echoed by the CBI who called for the CMA to provide:

“A strategic steer for the lifetime of the parliament that will underline, not undermine its independence”.

The CBI’s director-general John Cridland said:

“Business and the government of the day need a positive relationship for the best results to secure jobs and growth.

“The government can set the tone by ensuring the independence of the CMA is treated as sacrosanct through the lifetime of the next parliament.”

With Labour having shocked (but not surprised) the world with their commitment to dismiss the CMA’s findings if its outcome failed to match their rhetoric for a worrying moment it appeared that the Energy Secretary had followed suit. Whatever the reality of the context of Davey’s speech however, it is clear that the solution that the CMA was expected to bring to the energy markets now seems to be at best a reference document for potential and hypothetical action. With one party openly hostile, one seemingly wavering and one quiet the portents don’t look good for the CMA right now.