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.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Mr Edmund Dell Mr Edmund Dell , Birkenhead 12:00 am, 8th April 1970

But many other countries consider other figures very good rules.

I am coming to the point, why size? There are several reasons. First, there is a need to examine the whole of the firm concerned and not just the monopoly elements of it. Under the existing legislation, if a firm has a monopoly position the monopoly elements can be examined, but the non-monopoly elements which may be considerable and may have great influence over its monopoly activities are outside the legal coverage of the Monopolies Commission. It is a point of some significance in considering certain firms, of which it is easy to find examples.

There is also the fact that size can lead to a reduction in competition. I will give two examples. One is reciprocal buying. That is a practice which has been causing concern recently in the United States. There was an important case in 1965 on the point. Another way in which size in itself can affect competition is by the transfer of resources within a company, particularly a conglomerate, completely changing the real nature of the competitive situation and, in a way, subsidising competition.

These are reasons why one has to go beyond considerations of monopoly in the Bill. There is no presumption against monopoly or size any more than in the existing monopoly legislation there is a presumption against monopoly.

The grounds for reference indicated in Clause 2(2) are more specifically defined than in previous legislation. The particular part of the subsection to which I draw attention is any question relating to the prevention, restriction or distortion of competition, any question relating to the use made of a dominant position in any sector of the economy". Though size itself is not a criterion, it has to be within the size criterion, but there has to be some other reason. This widening of the scope of references is needed if we are not just going to regulate monopolies to preserve competition.