Performing Right Society Limited

Oral Answers to Questions — Oral Answers to Questions – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 5th December 1977.

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Photo of Mr Terence Higgins Mr Terence Higgins , Worthing 12:00 am, 5th December 1977

asked the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection if he will refer the activities of the Performing Right Society Limited to the Monopolies Commission.

Photo of Mr Hugh Jenkins Mr Hugh Jenkins , Wandsworth Putney

asked the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection if he will refer to the Monopolies and Mergers Commission the practices of the Performing Right Society Limited.

Photo of Mr John Fraser Mr John Fraser , Lambeth Norwood

The Director General of Fair Trading tells me that, in the light of complaints he has received, he is considering the possibility of a monopoly reference of certain activities of the Performing Right Society Limited.

Photo of Mr Terence Higgins Mr Terence Higgins , Worthing

Does the Minister agree that it is clear that this organisation is a monopoly within the terms of the existing legislation? In particular, will he consider whether a reference should not be made, in the light of what he has just said, bearing in mind the monopsonistic practices of this organisation—that is, that it is discriminating against certain people whose interests it says it is serving?

Photo of Mr John Fraser Mr John Fraser , Lambeth Norwood

I agree that in the two main services it performs it is a monopoly. As to the other allegations, I think that the Director General would want to look carefully at the evidence and listen to the view of parties on both sides of the argument before making his final decision.

Photo of Mr Hugh Jenkins Mr Hugh Jenkins , Wandsworth Putney

My hon. Friend will be aware that, in order to get matters on to the Order Paper, we sometimes have to put them in a way which does not really express what we want to express. However, is he aware that it is not so much the society's monopolistic position, which may be necessary, which is in question but the practices of the administration of the society which need looking into? Will my hon. Friend give an assurance that this matter will be investigated closely?

Photo of Mr John Fraser Mr John Fraser , Lambeth Norwood

I cannot give assurances as to what will be investigated by the Monopolies and Mergers Commission, because no decision to refer has been made. However, I shall draw these exchanges to the attention of the Director General for inclusion in the consideration that he has now given to the complaints that have been sent to his office.

Photo of Mr Tom Arnold Mr Tom Arnold , Hazel Grove

In this connection, I wish to draw the attention of the House to the declaration that I have made in the Register of Members' Interests. Is it not the case that the Government are still pledged to introduce public lending right, and how does the practical exercise of performing right differ from public lending right?

Photo of Mr John Fraser Mr John Fraser , Lambeth Norwood

I should like to think about that question.

Photo of Dennis Skinner Dennis Skinner , Bolsover

Is my hon. Friend aware that one of the problems here is that people who try to change the system that operates in this society are having difficulties inasmuch as those who run the show gather large numbers of proxy votes in order to keep other people from having a voice on the board, just as with the Amateur Athletics Association?

Photo of Mr John Fraser Mr John Fraser , Lambeth Norwood

I believe that the society does exhibit some characteristics of a self-perpetuating oligarchy, and that is one of the matters into which the Director General is looking.