Match Industry (Commission's Report)

Oral Answers to Questions — Trade and Commerce – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 21st May 1953.

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Photo of Mr George Darling Mr George Darling , Sheffield, Hillsborough 12:00 am, 21st May 1953

asked the President of the Board of Trade what action he intends to take to give effect to the recommendations of the Monopolies Commission in their Report on matches and match-making machinery.

Photo of Mr Charles Fletcher-Cooke Mr Charles Fletcher-Cooke , Darwen

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he has considered the recommendations of the Monopolies Commission in its Report on the supply of matches; and what action he proposes to take thereon.

Photo of Sir Raymond Gower Sir Raymond Gower , Barry

asked the President of the Board of Trade what steps he will take, in view of the recommendations of the Monopolies Commission in their Report on the match industry.

Photo of Mr Norman Dodds Mr Norman Dodds , Dartford

asked the President of the Board of Trade what action he proposes to take in view of the recommendation of the Monopolies Commission in their Report on matches and matchmaking machinery.

Photo of Mr Anthony Greenwood Mr Anthony Greenwood , Rossendale

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he will make a statement on the Report of the Monopolies Commission relating to the match industry.

Photo of Mr Douglas Jay Mr Douglas Jay , Battersea North

asked the President of the Board of Trade what action the Government intend to take to implement the recommendations of the Monopolies Commission's Report on the supply and export of matches and the supply of match-making machinery.

Photo of Mr Jon Rankin Mr Jon Rankin , Glasgow Tradeston

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he has considered the Report on the supply and export of matches and the supply of match-making machinery; and if he will make a statement on the recommendations contained in it.

Photo of Mr Stanley Awbery Mr Stanley Awbery , Bristol Central

asked the President of the Board of Trade, in view of the Report on the match monopoly, what steps he is taking to protect the public, and to reduce the price of matches to bring it into closer relation to the cost of production.

Photo of Mr Peter Thorneycroft Mr Peter Thorneycroft , Monmouth

I would refer the hon. Members to the answer given to my hon. Friend the Member for Shrewsbury (Mr. Langford-Holt) on 19th May.

Photo of Mr George Darling Mr George Darling , Sheffield, Hillsborough

Is it not a fact that the right hon. Gentleman has had this Report in his possession for seven months? How much more time does he think he needs before he comes to a decision? May I also ask him what he meant when he referred, earlier, to the fact that he wanted more extensive discussions with the industry? Does this mean that he will not take any action unless it has the approval of the British Match Corporation and its overseas associates?

Photo of Mr Peter Thorneycroft Mr Peter Thorneycroft , Monmouth

With regard to the time factor, this Report has only just been published and very considerable discussions have to take place upon it. It has been the custom of all Governments—the previous Government as well as this one —to discuss these Reports with the industries concerned before definitive action is taken. I think that that is a wise and proper course.

Photo of Mr Charles Fletcher-Cooke Mr Charles Fletcher-Cooke , Darwen

Would my right hon. Friend consider the possibility of making a divesting decree in this case rather than adopting the recommendations of the Commission? Does he realise that a divesting decree offers the only chance of getting some competition going whereas if he adopts the system of administering prices, as recommended by the Commission, he will perpetuate the monopoly and land his own Department in endless trouble?

Photo of Mr Peter Thorneycroft Mr Peter Thorneycroft , Monmouth

It would be wrong for me to be drawn into a discussion of parts of the Report until I make a comprehensive statement about what will be done.

Photo of Mr Douglas Jay Mr Douglas Jay , Battersea North

Why does the right hon. Gentleman still hesitate about this? Has not he had the Report in his hands for a considerable time? Is there not a perfectly fair statement of the facts by this authoritative Commission and also clear recommendations for action? Why need we have further delay?

Photo of Mr Peter Thorneycroft Mr Peter Thorneycroft , Monmouth

I think it is right that Governments should give proper consideration to these Reports. The previous Government had the Report on rainwater goods in April, 1951. By the time they left office, in the autumn, they had still made no recommendations at all. I do not blame them. I think it is right for all Governments to give careful consideration to Reports before jumping to conclusion upon them.

Photo of Sir Raymond Gower Sir Raymond Gower , Barry

Does my right hon. Friend agree that no considerable action could be taken under the powers provided by the previous Government and has he considered whether legislation would be necessary for any considerable action to be taken?

Photo of Mr Peter Thorneycroft Mr Peter Thorneycroft , Monmouth

I do not propose to be drawn into any discussion about what action could or could not be taken until I make a comprehensive statement.

Photo of Mr Douglas Jay Mr Douglas Jay , Battersea North

Can the right hon. Gentleman at least assure us that he will take action and that he will make a definite statement shortly?

Photo of Mr Peter Thorneycroft Mr Peter Thorneycroft , Monmouth

Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will await the statement that I have to make.

Photo of Mr Stanley Awbery Mr Stanley Awbery , Bristol Central

What action will be taken to protect the public from exploitation, now that it is found that matches are 16 times higher in price than they were before the war? Will he take action immediately to protect the public from further exploitation?

Photo of Mr Peter Thorneycroft Mr Peter Thorneycroft , Monmouth

Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will await my statement.

Photo of Mr Herbert Morrison Mr Herbert Morrison , Lewisham South

Can the President say when he anticipates being able to state the intentions of the Government? May we look forward to it within a month?

Photo of Mr Peter Thorneycroft Mr Peter Thorneycroft , Monmouth

Not at this stage. I would prefer to give consideration to the matter.

Photo of Mr Norman Dodds Mr Norman Dodds , Dartford

Does the right hon. Gentleman appreciate that a good deal of suspicion is aroused by virtue of the fact that when the announcement was made of the sensational exposure he made no statement about the Government's attitude and also that his answer to his hon. Friend gives ground for suspicion? Will he bear in mind that "Britain Strong and Free" says that the Conservatives will strengthen the Monopolies Commission? Will he say when we can expect a statement on the matter?

Photo of Mr Peter Thorneycroft Mr Peter Thorneycroft , Monmouth

It has never been the custom for this or the previous Government to make an announcement of their intention at the time when they publish a Report. It has always been customary to give consideration to it.

Photo of Mr Jon Rankin Mr Jon Rankin , Glasgow Tradeston

The Minister will remember that he has claimed the Monopolies Measure as his own child. Can he assure us that he will not desert that child, in view of the terms of this Report?

Photo of Mr Peter Thorneycroft Mr Peter Thorneycroft , Monmouth

I do not think I had sole parental responsibility.