Orders of the Day — Commission for Industry and Manpower Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 8th April 1970.

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Photo of Dr Michael Winstanley Dr Michael Winstanley , Cheadle 12:00 am, 8th April 1970

I am sure other hon. Members can produce similar examples in different spheres, but we should remember that these are faults which arise from the structure of industry rather than from the way in which they are managed. The problem is what is to be done, and this is what the Bill is about. The Long Title underlines that the Bill has to do with large undertakings.

On first looking at the Bill we welcomed the fusion of the Monopolies Commission with the N.B.P.I., but were uneasy about the extent of the intervention allowed, and the extent to which the Bill appeared to fossilise industry in its existing state. On looking further, we found that the Bill dealt with labour as well as management. Clause 3(1)(a) refers to at least one-third of the goods or services". This is something new. The previous legislation on monopolies and restrictive practices did not refer to services.

Clause 3 is almost a word-for-word reproduction of Section 4(1)(a) of the Monopolies and Restrictive Practices (Inquiry and Control) Act 1948: at least one-third of all the goods of that description… So the word "services" has been specifically added in this Bill.

Does this mean that the Commission can inquire into conveyancing, restrictive practices operated by estate agents, scale fees, the management of theatres and the operation of theatrical agencies? If so, we welcome that as one slight advance.