Orders of the Day — Restrictive Trade Practices

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 2nd December 1957.

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Photo of Mr Frederick Erroll Mr Frederick Erroll , Altrincham and Sale 12:00 am, 2nd December 1957

The hon. and learned Member need not be so hard on the Registrar and his staff. The preparation of court cases is quite different from the semi-clerical work of registration, and it is properly performed by different staffs.

The Registrar has so arranged the work of his department that those who are looking after court cases get on with their part of the work and those engaged on handling the first batch of agreements are now, quite properly, available to handle the second and remaining batches. The hon. and learned Member might criticise us if we failed to call up the second and remaining batches and left the staff in idleness. It surely is appropriate to call up these batches, if only for that reason. There is, however, a better reason, in that the act of calling up agreements in itself brings about a quite noticeable change.

The hon. and learned Member asked whether these were modifications merely of detail in agreements, or whether they meant a reduction in the amount of restriction in individual agreements. I am going on what the Registrar has told the Board of Trade. It may help to reassure the hon. and learned Member if I quote a relevant sentence. The Registrar says that he had a substantial sample of 200 cases looked at, and he refers to a proportion of them as being …pre-Act agreements in which it is apparent that significant alterations in the scope of the restrictions have been made since that date. In other words, in the proportion that I have quoted, significant alterations have been made in the scope of the restrictions. That, therefore, is a point on which we are entitled, if not to take credit for them, at least to be satisfied that a step forward has been taken in the reduction of the scope of the restrictions.