Monopolies and Cartels

Oral Answers to Questions — National Finance – in the House of Commons on 6th July 1943.

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Photo of Sir Walter Liddall Sir Walter Liddall , Lincoln

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether his attention has been drawn to the proceedings before the courts in America, seeking to restrain certain firms under the anti-trust law from monopolistic practices; and what steps he proposes to take to safeguard consumers in this country from the operation of similar monopolistic practices?

Photo of Major Abraham Lyons Major Abraham Lyons , Leicester East

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is prepared to appoint a committee to inquire into the effect on British export trade of cartel agreements which have been entered into between firms in this country and those in other countries?

Photo of Mr Frederick Bellenger Mr Frederick Bellenger , Bassetlaw

asked the President of the Board of Trade what steps he has taken to satisfy himself that the public interest is not prejudiced by the operations of international cartels in which British firms are concerned?

Photo of Mr Hugh Dalton Mr Hugh Dalton , Bishop Auckland

My attention has been drawn to the proceedings mentioned, and His Majesty's Ambassador at Washington has been asked, at my request, to furnish particulars of the charges made. As my hon. Friend the Member for Lincoln (Mr. Liddall) will appreciate, a considerable safeguard for consumers in this country is afforded by our existing arrangements for price control. I would also refer my hon. Friends to the reply I gave on 23rd March last to a Question by my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke (Mr. Ellis Smith).

Photo of Mr Frederick Bellenger Mr Frederick Bellenger , Bassetlaw

When my right hon. Friend Las the report from our Ambassador in Washington on the charges that have been made, will he cause an inquiry to be held in this country as to the British Company, I.C.I., against whom the allegations are being made?

Photo of Mr Hugh Dalton Mr Hugh Dalton , Bishop Auckland

I think that it would be better for us first to get the facts from the Ambassador's report. But, since my hon. Friends have raised the matter of I. C. I., I think I should tell the House that I saw Lord McGowan and Lord Melchett yesterday, and that they repeated the denial already made by Lord McGowan of the allegations against I.C.I., and in particular of the serious allegation that they had been trading with the enemy. They placed themselves entirely at the disposal of His Majesty's Government.

Photo of Mr Frederick Bellenger Mr Frederick Bellenger , Bassetlaw

In view of that serious allegation, of trading with the enemy, does my right hon. Friend not think that something inure is required than a mere denial by two directors of the company?

Photo of Mr Hugh Dalton Mr Hugh Dalton , Bishop Auckland

I think we had better wait until we get the facts.