Resale Prices Act

Oral Answers to Questions — Board of Trade – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 29th April 1965.

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Photo of Mr Trevor Park Mr Trevor Park , Derbyshire South East 12:00 am, 29th April 1965

asked the President of the Board of Trade how many manufacturers have made applications to the Registrar of Restrictive Trade Agreements for the exemption of their products from the provisions of the Resale Prices Act; and for how many categories of products such exemption has been claimed.

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

I understand from the Registrar that he received some 700 applications from various firms and trade associations and that these relate to over 400 classes of goods.

Photo of Mr Trevor Park Mr Trevor Park , Derbyshire South East

Would not my hon. Friend agree that under existing procedures the hearing of such a large amount of exemption claims may well take several years? Would he not further agree that there is some evidence here of a conspiracy, by some manufacturers at least, to defeat the purposes of the Act? Will he consider methods by which the hearing of claims can be expedited?

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

I do not know about evidence of conspiracy, but my hon. Friend will be aware that the Registrar is able to group goods for the purpose of references to the Court. In fact, in the 12 references already made about 300 different classes of goods are involved and, if experience under the Restrictive Trade Practices Act is any guide, of every four or five references only one goes to a full hearing.

Photo of Sir Peter Emery Sir Peter Emery , Reading

Has priority been given to those firms which specifically requested that their applications for hearing should be dealt with first in order that the matter should be clarified for their own industry?

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

No. The priority of references was left to the Registrar. The Board of Trade did not give any directions.

Photo of Sir Peter Emery Sir Peter Emery , Reading

The President of the Board of Trade gave me an assurance a few months ago that he would look into this matter to ensure that priority was given to firms which requested it. Will the Minister reconsider this matter immediately?

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

No, because after the consideration that was given to the matter by my right hon. Friend it was concluded—I, and I am sure most people who are involved in this, think rightly—that it should be left to the Registrar to decide, and he has decided the order of references.

Photo of Mr William Clark Mr William Clark , Nottingham South

Would not the Minister of State agree that the reduction in prices—particularly the reduction in the price of whisky—following the Resale Prices Act has been largely offset by the penal taxation of this Government and that the benefits of the Resale Prices Act——

Photo of Sir Harry Hylton-Foster Sir Harry Hylton-Foster , Cities of London and Westminster

No such whisky arises out of the Answer.