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Monopolies Commission

Volume 462: debated on Thursday 3 March 1949

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55.

asked the President of the Board of Trade what cases he has referred to the Monopolies Restrictive Practices Commission; and when he expects a report.

On 1st March six references were made to the Commission. The goods are:

  • 1.—(a) Electrical filament lamps, for illumination or otherwise; and (b) discharge lamps and fluorescent lamps, for illumination;
  • 2. Instruments, appliances, equipment, apparatus, materials, and accessories (including artificial teeth), wholly or mainly used in dentistry;
  • 3. Insulated electric wires and cables;
  • 4. Machinery for the manufacture of matches;
  • 5. Matches;
  • 6. Rainwater goods, soil goods and miscellaneous builders' castings, made of cast iron.
  • All the references were made under Sections 2 (1) (a) and 6 (1) (b) of the Monopolies and Restrictive Practices (Inquiry and Control) Act. In the case of matches a reference was also made under Section 2 (1) (c). I am circulating the text of the references in the OFFICIAL REPORT. I cannot say when reports may be expected, but my hon. Friend will appreciate that these six references constitute a heavy programme of work which is likely to occupy the Commission for a considerable time.

    Is my right hon. Friend aware that that answer will be very welcome to many hon. Members on this side of the House, and will he also say whether it is the intention of the Government that the minutes of evidence and the reports should be published and made available when inquiries are completed?

    I am sure that the announcement will be welcomed by hon. Members in all parts of the House in view of the support given to the Monopolies Act last year. I can certainly undertake that all the reports will be made available to the House, unless any of them should happen to contain anything which would be regarded as involving questions of security.

    Following are the details of the references:

    Whereas it appears to the Board of Trade that it is or may be the fact that conditions to which the Monopolies and Restrictive Practices (Inquiry and Control) Act, 1948, applies prevail as respects the supply of:

  • (a) electrical filament lamps, for illumination or otherwise; and
  • (b) discharge lamps and fluorescent lamps, for illumination.
  • Now therefore, the Board in pursuance of Section 2 (1) of the Act hereby refer to the Monopolies and Restrictive Practices Commission for investigation and report the matter of such supply.

    The Commission shall as respects such supply investigate and report on:

  • (1) whether conditions to which the Act applies in fact prevail, and if so in what manner and to what extent;
  • (2) the things which are done by the parties concerned as a result of, or for the purpose of preserving, those conditions; and
  • (3) whether the conditions in question or all or any of the things done as aforesaid operate or may be expected to operate against the public interest.
  • References in similar terms have also been made to the Commission relating to the supply of the following goods:

  • (1) Instruments, appliances, equipment, apparatus, materials, and accessories (including artificial teeth), wholly or mainly used in dentistry;
  • (2) Insulated electric wires and cables;
  • (3) Machinery for the manufacture of matches;
  • (4) Rainwater goods, soil goods and miscellaneous builders' castings, made of cast iron.
  • A reference in similar terms has also been made relating to the supply of matches with the addition that exports of matches are also to be investigated.

    The terms of this reference are as follow:

    Whereas it appears to the Board of Trade that it is or may be the fact that conditions to which the Monopolies and Restrictive Practices (Inquiry and Control) Act, 1948, applies prevail as respects—
  • (1) the supply of matches, and
  • (2) exports of matches from the United Kingdom, either generally or to any particular market.
  • Now, therefore, the Board in pursuance of Section 2 (1) of the Act hereby refer to the Monopolies and Restrictive Practices Commission for investigation and report the matters of such supply and exports.

    The Commission shall as respects such supply and exports investigate and report on:

  • (1) whether conditions to which the Act applies in fact prevail, and if so in what manner and to what extent;
  • (2) the things which are done by the parties concerned as a result of, or for the purpose of preserving, those conditions; and
  • (3) whether the conditions in question or all or any of the things done as aforesaid operate or may be expected to operate against the public interest.
  • In this reference "matches" does not include Bengal lights.