HC Deb 08 May 1952 vol 500 cc521-3
1. Miss Elaine Burton

asked the President of the Board of Trade when he next expects to select matters for reference to the Monopolies Commission for investigation.

The President of the Board of Trade (Mr. Peter Thorneycroft)

I expect to have chosen two further matters for reference to the Monopolies Commission by the latter part of the summer.

Miss Burton

Should I be in order in asking the right hon. Gentleman if one of those two matters may be the problem of car accessories?

Mr. P. Thorneycroft

I told the hon. Lady previously that that is one of the matters which I have in mind, but I should not like to prejudge the issue at this stage.

Major H. Legge-Bourke

Is consideration being given to the possibility of putting under the purview of the Monopolies Commission any producer marketing board that may be re-established in full force in the months to come?

Mr. Thorneycroft

That raises a wider issue that, I think, may require legislation.

Mrs. Jean Mann

Would the right hon. Gentleman give consideration to the very urgent problem of monopoly in housing materials such as sanitary ware, asbestos, lead piping?

Mr. Thorneycroft

I shall certainly bear in mind that and other suggestions that have been put before me, but I think it would be unwise to announce, before my decision at the end of the summer, just which ones I shall refer to the Commission.

Mr. John Rankin

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the cost of the components of a cathode ray tube for a television set is between 3s. and 4s., and that when that is retailed in the shops the cost is about £15? Does he not think that that is a matter that he ought to consider for the list he is drawing up?

5. Lieut.-Colonel H. M. Hyde

asked the President of the Board of Trade when it is proposed to refer the distribution of chemists' goods to the Monopolies and Restrictive Practices Commission for investigation.

Mr. P. Thorneycroft

I will bear this in mind when further references to the Monopolies Commission are selected.

Lieut.-Colonel Hyde

Is my right hon. Friend aware that it is over two years since this subject was first suggested to the Monopolies Commission as a suitable one for investigation and that there are many wholesale chemists who are suffering from the effects of the operation of that monopoly? Is he further aware that I could supply him with particulars of at least one firm in Northern Ireland which cannot deal in these goods because it is denied membership of the Chemists' Federation, although the vast majority of retail chemists in Northern Ireland are in favour of that firm being able to compete in that field?

11. Mr. Leslie

Hale asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is now in a position to state what industries he proposes to refer for consideration by the Monopolies Commission.

Mr. P. Thorneycroft

No, Sir.

Mr. Hale

While appreciating that the right hon. Gentleman's gallantry in remaining on the Cabinet bridge during the recent tempest has occupied a good deal of his time, may I ask if he would apply his mind to this subject, which is of great importance and great interest to the community?

Mr. Thorneycroft

I said in answer to an earlier question this afternoon that I thought it would be wrong to announce in advance of this summer which industries I have selected for reference to the Commission.