Monopolies and Mergers Commission and Office of Fair Trading

Oral Answers to Questions — Prime Minister – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 17th March 1983.

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Photo of Mr Robert McCrindle Mr Robert McCrindle , Brentwood and Ongar 12:00 am, 17th March 1983

asked the Prime Minister whether, in the light of recent decisions by the Monopolies and Mergers Commission and recommendations on matters placed before it by the Office of Fair Trading, she remains satisfied that both bodies continue to fulfil their functions adequately in the public interest; and if she will make a statement.

Photo of Mrs Margaret Thatcher Mrs Margaret Thatcher The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party

Since both bodies deal with complex and difficult issues, their operation is often controversial. Both bodies recognise this and seek to take full account of different views in fulfilling their functions.

Photo of Mr Robert McCrindle Mr Robert McCrindle , Brentwood and Ongar

Now that there is a programme of investigation into the nationalised industries by the Monopolies and Mergers Commission, does the Prime Minister feel that there may be an argument either for a separate body to continue that extremely important work or, at the very least, the creation of a separate division within the Monopolies and Mergers Commission for that purpose while the commission continues with its inquiry into private mergers? Alternatively, is there a case for extending the remit of the Office of Fair Trading, so that it can be more involved in the investigation of proposed private mergers?

Photo of Mrs Margaret Thatcher Mrs Margaret Thatcher The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party

I recognise the reasons for my hon. Friend's proposal, but it would be a pity to set up an extra body when the present Monopolies and Mergers Commission is dealing with such matters, including the many references of public sector industries that have already been made to it, most of which have been published. It can call on consultants to help with its audit work, but it would be better to allow the present arrangements to continue for a further period before reviewing them.