HC Deb 24 February 1953 vol 511 cc1901-2
35. Major Markham

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that certain statistics and other information published in the Reports of the Monopolies Commission have been of assistance to our international competitors; and whether in future he will consult with the Commission with a view to ensuring that the industries concerned are enabled to see the Reports before publication so that their opinion may be expressed on these matters.

Mr. H. Strauss

No, Sir; though I agree that published information could, on occasion, have that effect. I would remind my hon. and gallant Friend that Section 9 of the Monopolies and Restrictive Practices (Inquiry and Control) Act, 1948, lays on my right hon. Friend the duty of laying before Parliament only so much of a Report as in his opinion can be made public without injury to the public interest. When he thinks it necessary, he will be prepared to discuss with the industry concerned the possible effect on the public interest of revealing certain information.

Major Markham

Is the Minister not aware that already some damage has been done to our exporting industries by the publication of extremely confidential material? Is he not aware that it is essential that our exporting industries should be safeguarded against this giving away of vital information to our international competitors?

Mr. Strauss

I am aware of the possible danger to which my hon. and gallant Friend draws attention, but I think it right to say that no representations about such damage have been made to the Board of Trade.

Mr. Gaitskell

Is not far more damage being done to our exports by the failure of the Government to take effective action against these monopolies?