HC Deb 22 October 1953 vol 518 cc2144-5
38. Mr. Jay

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he will now say what action he proposes to take arising out of the Report of the Monopoly Commission on the match industry.

Mr. P. Thorneycroft

I have already informed the House that I accept the conclusion of the Report of the Monopolies Commission that, taken as a whole, the arrangements which have obtained between the British Match Corporation and the Swedish Match Company operate against the public interest. I am adopting all the recommendations of the Commission except that dealing with price control.

Further, I am seeking the removal of objectionable restrictions, such as the division of sales in the British market in a stated proportion, under the Trading Agreement (British Isles) between the British Match Corporation and the Swedish Match Company. The British Match Corporation and the Swedish Match Company have been in negotiation with a view to the conclusion of a revised agreement which would eliminate the features of the existing Agreement which the Government consider objectionable. These negotiations are still proceeding.

I will, of course, have to consider the terms of any revised agreement and will make a further statement in the House in due course.

Mr. Jay

While we welcome the fact that the right hon. Gentleman is now taking action, even though I think it has taken him more than six months to make up his mind, can I ask him if he is really satisfied that it will be effective without price control?

Mr. Thorneycroft

I think these are proper actions to take in these special circumstances. I have already given to the House the reasons why I doubt whether price control would prove effective.