asked the Minister of Works (1) what action has been taken, and what further action is proposed, other than the reference of certain items already announced to the Commission on Monopolies and Restrictive Practices, to give effect to recommendation (3) of the Report on the Distribution of Building Materials;
(2) what action has been taken, and what further action is contemplated to give effect to recommendation (2) of the Report on the Distribution of Building Materials, which deals with the control of distributors' margins on building materials and components;
(3) whether he can make any statement about steps taken to carry out recommendation (1) in the Report on the Distribution of Building Materials, presented to him in March, 1948.
Recommendation (1) in the report was addressed to the builders' merchants and I called the attention of their organisation to it. Without a detailed inquiry I cannot say what improvements merchants have made in their systems of accounting, methods of stock control and other matters to which their attention was drawn, but I hope they will continue to effect improvements wherever possible.
As regards recommendation (2), further reductions of margins have taken place since my replies to my hon. Friend on 24th January and 2nd February, 1949, and my Department is now carrying out an investigation of margins to ascertain what more can be done.
Recommendation (3) was a long-term measure to eliminate restrictive practices in the field of distribution of building materials. I hope that objective will be reached through the machinery established by the Monopolies and Restrictive Practices (Inquiry and Control) Act and I must await the report of the Monopolies and Restrictive Practices Commission on the items already referred to them before deciding what further action may be desirable.
So far as recommendation (1) is concerned, will the Minister seek from the trade associations concerned some sort of progress report on what has been achieved? On recommendation (2), and the present investigation into margins which the Minister has just announced, can he say when that investigation will be completed by his Department?
This is a continuing practice. With regard to investigations into margins, in the answer which I have already given I have said that in respect of between 30 and 40 items the margins were reduced.