asked the Minister of Works if he is aware that firms supplying structural steel are quoting identical tenders to public authorities; if he has studied a recent case in Lancashire involving public money, the details of which have been supplied to him; and whether he will take steps to deal with this ring either by referring the question to the Steel Board or by recommending a reference to the Monopolies Commission.
I am aware that, firms fabricating and erecting structural steel frequently quote identical prices, as apparently happened in the case in Lancashire to which the right hon. Member refers. It has been the practice for many years for Government contracting departments to ensure, by costing and otherwise, that only a fair and reasonable price is paid for this work. The price of fabricated structural steel is not a matter for the Steel Board. My right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade, who is well aware of the position, will bear it in mind when further references to the Monopolies Commission are under consideration.