HC Deb 24 January 1945 vol 407 cc816-7
45. Sir Percy Harris

asked the Prime Minister whether he will give an opportunity for a Debate on the Motion dealing with Monopolies in the name of the right hon. Member for Bethnal Green and other hon. Members.

[That this House takes note of the recent declaration of His Majesty's Government regarding combines and price-fixing agreements and urges His Majesty's Government to introduce legislation in the near future designed to protect the consumer against exploitation; to remove those defects in the law (such as those relating to the law of patents) which have encouraged the growth of monopolies; to convert into public utility companies such complete monopolies as are found to be necessary or desirable because of the character of the commodity or service provided; and to prevent trade associations from limiting the right of entry into their trades or industries.]

Mr. Eden

In view of the state of Business, I regret that I cannot hold out any hope of facilities being granted, at present, for a discussion of this Motion.

Sir P. Harris

Is the Leader of the House aware that in the White Paper presented by the Government dealing with employment they insisted on the importance of dealing with this problem in view of post-war issues? If he cannot give an opportunity for a discussion on our Motion, can the right hon. Gentleman suggest when the Government will produce their own legislation?

Mr. Eden

My right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade did deal with this, as my right hon. Friend knows, on the Debate on the Address. I am afraid, in view of the many other demands on our time at present, I cannot go beyond what he said then.

Mr. Petherick

Will my right hon. Friend consider trying to find a date as early as possible so that we may discuss the greatest of all monopolies, namely, Socialism?

Mr. George Griffiths

Is the hon. Member getting afraid of it?

Mr. Moelwyn Hughes

Does not the right hon. Gentleman recollect that the White Paper contained the specific promise of legislation, and in view of the fact that there is no prospect of any legislation coming from the Government, does not that entitle the House to have a day to discuss it soon?

Mr. Eden

Certainly, Sir, if there is legislation there will obviously be discussion. If there is much discussion there cannot be any legislation.

Sir A. Southby

That is a new one.

Mr. A. Bevan

Has the right hon. Gentleman yet obtained the permission of the monopolists to bring in legislation?