Refusal-to-Supply

Oral Answers to Questions — Oral Answers to Questions – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 12 May 1980.

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Photo of Mr Dale Campbell-Savours Mr Dale Campbell-Savours , Workington 12:00, 12 May 1980

asked the Secretary of State for Trade when he intends to meet the Director General of Fair Trading to discuss refusal-to-supply activities.

Photo of Mrs Sally Oppenheim Mrs Sally Oppenheim , Gloucester

It is for the Director General to decide whether refusal-to-supply constitutes a breach of the Resale Prices Act warranting action on behalf of the Crown in the courts. It would be improper for me to seek to influence his decision in individual cases.

Photo of Mr Dale Campbell-Savours Mr Dale Campbell-Savours , Workington

When the Minister next meets the Director General of Fair Trading, will she raise with him the refusal to supply by major hi-fi and white goods manufacturers to Tesco and Argos and ask the Director General when he intends to take action to resolve that problem?

Photo of Mrs Sally Oppenheim Mrs Sally Oppenheim , Gloucester

I am glad to tell the hon. Gentleman that I meet the Director General of Fair Trading frequently. Although we may discuss individual cases, I do not seek, as I pointed out in my earlier reply, to influence the Director General in individual cases. There are a number of ways in which action can be taken in such instances—on the part of the individuals concerned in civil proceedings, under the Resale Prices Act—which again would be a matter for the Director General of Fair Trading—or under the new, swifter and more flexible powers in the Competition Act which complement existing powers. No doubt the hon. Gentleman will welcome these new powers which will make it more difficult for the practices to which he has referred to prevail in future.

Photo of John Gummer John Gummer , Eye

Is my right hon. Friend aware that refusal to supply is being used by newspaper wholesalers in London who are attempting to make themselves into monopolies in particular areas? Will my right hon. Friend ensure that this particular technique, which is totally against the interests of the consumer and the retailer, is brought to the attention of the Director General of Fair Trading who has said nothing about this matter up to now?

Photo of Mrs Sally Oppenheim Mrs Sally Oppenheim , Gloucester

My hon. Friend has raised a matter about which I know there is considerable concern on both sides of the House. There is a registered agreement under the Restrictive Trade Practices Act in relation to the supply of newspapers which makes it impossible for certain people to obtain a supply of these newspapers if it is refused by the wholesaler. I, along with my hon. Friend, am not satisfied with this situation; and I shall discuss it with the Director General of Fair Trading.