HC Deb 11 June 1953 vol 516 cc433-5
21. Mrs. Castle

asked the President of the Board of Trade what action he proposes to take to implement the proposals in the Report of the Monopolies Commission, on matches and match-making machinery.

Mr. P. Thorneycroft

I would refer the hon. Member to the answer given on 19th May to my hon. Friend, the Member for Shrewsbury (Mr. Langford-Holt).

Mrs. Castle

Is it not a fact that the Board of Trade had this Report in their hands for nearly six months before publishing it and that another month has elapsed since publication? As the right hon. Gentleman is on record as having pledged himself to fight monopoly, can he explain why he is sitting on this Report and being so afraid to act?

Mr. Thorneycroft

This is a large and complex subject and it took the Monopolies Commission something like three to four years to give full consideration to it. I see no reason why I should not take four weeks after publication.

Mr. Awbery

Is the Minister aware that the cost of matches has risen from 1½d. a box to 2s. a dozen boxes and that the rise in cost is not justified, according to the Commission? Will he take early steps to protect the public from such exploitation?

Mr. Thorneycroft

I think we have to consider the Report as a whole.

Mr. Grimond

Does not the Minister's reply show again that the powers of the Commission at present are quite inadequate and that his own powers concerning monopolies also need strengthening?

Mr. Thorneycroft

I do not think it affects the powers of the Commission. Their Report on this matter is very full and certainly deserves serious and close consideration before any announcement on policy is decided.