UK Politics

Ed Miliband pledges more say for consumers on competition

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Media captionEd Miliband: "We have got to make sure we have a system in place to shine a light on broken markets"

A future Labour government would involve consumer groups in ensuring there is genuine competition between businesses, Ed Miliband has said.

The party leader told the BBC's Andrew Marr Show bodies such as Which? and Citizens' Advice would help regulators draw up an annual competition audit.

Ministers would have an obligation to address any concerns raised.

Mr Miliband said addressing greater competition was a way to tackle pressures on the cost of living.

It follows his announcements of plans to promote more competition in the banking sector and reform the energy industry.

The pressure on living standards has become a political focus for all the parties ahead of the general election next year.

'New economy'

A new regulator, the Competition and Markets Authority, is due to take over the roles of the Competition Commission and Office of Fair Trading from April.

Speaking to the BBC, Mr Miliband called for a "new economy" based on "open" not "broken" competition.

He said Labour aimed to be "the party of the consumer" and would legislate to enable consumer groups to be involved in tackling potential problem areas.

"Unless you bring the consumer into the heart of these things, we are not going to get the change we need," he said.

"We've got to make sure that we have a system in place to shine a light on broken markets."

He said Which? and Citizens' Advice would work alongside the authority "providing the information, setting the agenda for the future, setting the agenda for how we can ensure competition to benefit consumers and businesses".

He added: "They will be sending a report to Parliament and it will be framing the work for the year ahead."

In response to Mr Miliband's comments, employers' organisation the CBI said the Competition and Markets Authority should be allowed to operate free from interference.

Union votes

Mr Miliband also told the programme the party would make "fairer choices" to achieve its aim of eliminating the deficit in the next parliament.

"There won't be lots of money to spend, things will be difficult," he said.

"The task for the next Labour government will be to earn and grow our way to that higher standard of living, not being able to engage in lots more spending."

He went on to say he was "determined" that changes to the way Labour elected its leaders would be made as part of reforms to its links with trade unions.

A special party conference to discuss changes to the voting arrangements is to take place in March.

Labour MPs currently make up a third of the electoral college, with the other two thirds split between unions and constituency parties.

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