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Building Societies

Volume 165: debated on Wednesday 17 January 1990

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43.

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether he has any plans to limit mergers and tied insurance arrangements involving building societies.

Mergers and proposed mergers involving building societies come within the scope of the normal competition legislation. Under the Fair Trading Act 1973, the Director General of Fair Trading has a duty to keep himself informed of merger activity and to advise the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry on whether or not particular mergers should be referred to the Monopolies and Mergers Commission for investigation. I have powers under the Fair Trading Act to prevent a merger only if I have referred it to the commission and the commission has concluded that the merger would operate against the public interest.In addition, the Director General of Fair Trading has powers under the Fair Trading Act and the Competition Act 1980 to initiate investigations into complaints about abuses of monopolies and anti-competitive practices. If the hon. Member has any evidence to suggest that tied insurance arrangements involving building societies are an abuse of a monopoly or an anti-competitive practice he should bring it to the attention of the director general.