asked the President of the Board of Trade (1) if he is aware that the national newspapers practise a restriction on competition by price maintenance, as is instanced by their joint action in raising prices simultaneously on 7th May, 1951; and if he will refer this matter to the Monopolies Commission;
(2) if he is aware of the activities of the Joint Committee of newspaper proprietors and newsagents in collectively refusing supplies of newspapers to newsagents who do not conform to their joint requirements and, in particular, refusing supplies to Co-operative societies and other wholesalers; and if he will refer this matter to the Monopolies Commission;
Does the Parliamentary Secretary consider that the simultaneous raising of prices, refusal of supplies to potential newsagents, and price fixing of newspapers at standard prices, can be described as a wicked price ring, Star Chamber, or a vicious system of price maintenance, as was eloquently condemned in the columns of the" Daily Express "?
I have little doubt that the Commission was given the assistance it required in its existing inquiry under Section 15 of the Monopolies and Restrictive Practices Act, 1948.
asked the President of the Board of Trade, in view of the fact that, following on the report of the Monopolies Commission, the electric lamp manufacturers have given him an undertaking to revoke their trading ban on retailers who offer deferred dividends on sales, if he will seek similar undertakings from all other manufacturers and traders who resort to this ban, and whose activities thus come within the scope of the Monopolies and Restrictive Practices Act, 1948.
Is it necessary to wait for the report if the President of the Board of Trade can do a useful job of work without waiting for the report? Can he not approach manufacturers other than the electric lamp manufacturers who resort to this practice and ask them to behave themselves?
No, the hon. Gentleman is mistaken about the effect of the Act. The Commission's recommendation on the supply of particular goods does not enable action to be taken on a similar practice applying to goods into which the Commission has not conducted an investigation. But the present examination which it is making under Section 15 of the Act may deal with the practice generally.
Will not the Parliamentary Secretary seek from manufacturers some kind of assurance similar to that given by electric lamp manufacturers? When he gets those replies, could he not let the House know so that the House may know what kind of practices have been operated? There is no need to wait for the report of the Commission to do that.
The hon. Gentleman cannot have understood my answer to his hon. Friend. It cannot be deduced, from the fact that the Commission has made a particular finding in any one inquiry, that it would necessarily think that the same applied in relation to the supply of different goods.