Skip to main content

Monopolies And Restrictive Practices

Volume 655: debated on Thursday 15 March 1962

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.


asked the President of the Board of Trade when he expects to complete his review of policy relating to monopolies and restrictive practices; and if he will make a statement.

As I told the House on 14th February, I doubt whether the review of this complex subject will be completed before the end of the year.


asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he will introduce legislation to empower the courts to order business companies to divest themselves of such part or parts of their commercial activities as may be necessary to bring them within the limits permitted under existing provisions of laws relating to monopolies.

No limits are set by existing legislation in this country to the size of the activities of business companies. The subject raised in my hon. Friend's question is being covered by the comprehensive review of monopolies and restrictive practices legislation now being undertaken by the Board of Trade.

Does not my right hon. Friend appreciate that he himself has just admitted that he has no power, even dif it were desired, to carry out the recommendations of the Commission? If he will not introduce legislation to deal with the matter, will not the Government find time—or will he ask his right hon. Friend to provide time—for the Bill in the name of my hon. Friend the Member for Bath (Sir J. Pitman), myself and others?

I have noted the suggestion about the Bill which my hon. Friend the Member for Bath (Sir J. Pitman) asked leave to introduce.


asked the President of the Board of Trade what proposals he now has to make the control of monopolies more effective.

I would ask my hon. Friend to wait until the review of the policy and legislation on monopolies and restrictive practices by my officials has been completed.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that what he calls his powers of persuasion are peculiarly ineffective and that we need something in the meantime?

I do not think my hon. Friend would thank me for introducing bad or unsatisfactory legislation in a hurry to avoid the taunts of the Opposition who say that they are having to wait too long.

Has the right hon. Gentleman read the Report of Mr. Sich, the Registrar of Restrictive Trading Agreements, which was published in January? Has he noted that of the 25 industries which he has investigated 18 are running practices contrary to the consumer, but that in only one case have the Government taken any action at all. Why are they so disinclined to take action?

Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that some of us on this side of the House told our electors at the last General Election that we were very strongly opposed to both public and private monopolies, and that we are getting a little concerned—[HON. MEMBERS: "Orpington."]—at the apparent lack of enthusiasm in opposing monopolies shown by my right hon. Friend's Department?

It is not a case of enthusiasm or the lack of it. I deplore a witch-hunt into monopoly, as such, equally as much as I would deplore a situation in which my Department was not going into this whole question. I am sure that the right way is to review the whole matter thoroughly and then decide what should be done, if necessary.

If the President of the Board of Trade will not heed the taunts of the Opposition, will he heed the taunts of the electorate?

I am aware that there is a certain amount of concern about monopoly properly expressed in this House and reflected also among the electorate.