HC Deb 07 January 2003 vol 397 cc158-9W
Dr. Cable

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer when power will be granted to the Office of Fair Trading to allow it to regulate the bank clearance system; and if he will make a statement. [88661]

Ruth Kelly

The Government is closely monitoring developments in payment systems and will introduce legislation to give the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) new powers to promote effective competition in payment systems as soon as parliamentary time allows. Progress has already been made through, for example, the removal of charges for most cash withdrawals from automated teller machines ("ATMs") and reforms to the governance structures of the main UK payment systems. The Government welcome these moves by payment system participants to address the competition issues identified by the Cruickshank report and urges the industry to continue with these reforms.

To promote its understanding of how payment systems operate, and to help pave the way for its prospective powers, the OFT announced on 27 November that it will conduct an empirical study into recent payment system developments, starting early in 2003.

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