April 11, 2018 / 8:59 AM / 5 months ago

Former politician Tyrie to chair UK competition watchdog

LONDON (Reuters) - Andrew Tyrie, a former Conservative Party politician, was on Wednesday named as the new chairman of Britain’s competition watchdog as the government also set out plans to modernise the regulator’s approach.

Tyrie was formerly chairman of parliament’s influential Treasury Committee, where he gained a reputation for asking tough questions. He led investigations into the banking industry after the financial crisis, the work of the Bank of England and the finance ministry.

“In the years ahead, competition can and should be put even closer to the centre of British economic life, reaching to every sector, rooting out monopoly and unfair trading practices, and enhancing Britain’s global competitiveness into the bargain,” Tyrie said in a statement.

His nomination to the Competition and Markets Authority was announced as business secretary Greg Clark proposed a package of reforms for the regulator, including efforts to ensure new technology and data are used to benefit consumers and stronger action against scams.

“Today’s proposals are an important step... to ensure that the British business environment is shaped by competition that benefits consumers in terms of keen prices, quality products and services and cutting-edge innovation,” Clark said.

The CMA has faced criticism for not being tough enough on the industries it has investigated, especially with regards to recommendations it made following inquiries into the energy and banking sectors.

Tyrie himself has criticised the watchdog. In 2015, he said the remedies proposed by the CMA after an 18-month probe into competition in the banking sector were disappointing and fell short of what was needed.

Tyrie spent 20 years as a member of parliament representing the constituency of Chichester in south east England, and chaired the Treasury Select Committee from 2010 to 2017, when he stepped down as a lawmaker.

His appointment as chairman of the CMA was first reported by broadcaster Sky News earlier on Wednesday.

Reporting by Emma Rumney and David Milliken; editing by Kate Holton and Jane Merriman

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