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Cement (Price Fixing)

Volume 961: debated on Tuesday 30 January 1979

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asked the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection if he will refer to the Director General of Fair Trading the price fixing currently operated by the three cement suppliers

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Rugby, Ketton and Blue Circle which are charging exactly the same price per tonne and who are all levying exactly the same 8·92 per cent. increase from 21 January 1979.

No.As members of the Cement Makers' Federation, these companies are party to a long-standing common pricing agreement which is one of the few to have been judged by the Restrictive Practices Court not to be contrary to the public interest. The court found in 1961 that the agreement had resulted in lower overall prices than would prevail under conditions of free competition.The cement manufacturers are nevertheless subject to the prices legislation. Blue Circle Industries Limited—formerly Associated Portland Cement Manufacturers Limited—as a result of a Price Commission investigation last year, has undertaken to limit its price increases for the supply of ordinary Portland cement to customers at certain locations, and the Price Commission recently announced an investigation of price increases notified by Rugby Portland Cement Limited.