Anti-Trust Legislation

Oral Answers to Questions — Trade and Commerce – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 11th February 1954.

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Photo of Sir Eric Fletcher Sir Eric Fletcher , Islington East 12:00 am, 11th February 1954

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he has considered introducing into this country legislation comparable to the anti-trust legislation of the United States of America.

Photo of Sir Eric Fletcher Sir Eric Fletcher , Islington East

Now that we have had a few years' experience of the working of the Monopolies Commission, with its rather slow procedure, would not the Minister agree that, in many ways, the American system is more efficient in securing the desired objectives?

Photo of Mr Peter Thorneycroft Mr Peter Thorneycroft , Monmouth

I do not think I would agree with that point of view. Both parties have always adopted the empirical approach, which is different from the American type of monopoly legislation. I have recently expanded and strengthened the Commission and I think we should wait and see how it works.

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

Is the Minister aware that the enforcement of anti-trust legislation in the United States costs that country millions of dollars a year, and that, however laudable the object, we could not possibly afford that method?

Photo of Mr Donald Wade Mr Donald Wade , Huddersfield West

While not necessarily accepting that the American legislation is desirable, may I ask the Minister whether he does not agree that our existing legislation is really quite inadequate to deal with the problem of monopolies and restrictive practices? Can he not promise to consider improved measures?

Photo of Mr Peter Thorneycroft Mr Peter Thorneycroft , Monmouth

I think that the existing legislation is adequate for the purpose for which it is designed. The House will recall that I have recently made a reference on a general practice which is a new departure, and I think we should await that report before decisions are made.