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Surely our present monopolies legislation does not protect the individual in this country nearly as much as the anti-trust laws in the United States? Is not the right hon. Gentleman aware of the growing concern of many people in the country about the concentration of power in the hands of a few individuals either in the State or in industry?
A lot of people with knowledge of the American situation would have grave doubts about what the hon. Gentleman says in the first part of his supplementary question about how effective American anti-trust legislation is. On the second part, this is not fundamentally a problem of power. The Government have the power which they need. To put it crudely, both political parties and industry are slightly schizophrenic about this. On the one hand, we want mergers and rationalisation in many industries. On the other hand, we have our traditional obligation to protect the consumer.
Does the right hon. Gentleman mean by his first reply to this Question that he regards acceptance of some of the recommendations of the Monopolies Commission on the manmade fibres theme as being outside his present powers and that he does not mind their being outside his powers? In other words, is he not following up the recommendation of the Monopolies Commission that Courtaulds, in this case, should not carry its purchasing any further in certain sectors of the textile industry?
No; I am not conscious that what I said could have given rise to that interpretation. What I have said, and what I repeat, is that we are discussing the recommendations with Courtaulds, but in the light of the Government's declared policy to encourage rationalisation of the textile industry.