HC Deb 14 November 1955 vol 546 cc2-3
2. Mr. Bottomley

asked the Attorney-General if he has considered the details which have been sent to him showing that offences have been committed against the Auctions (Bidding Agreements) Act, 1927, by certain antique dealers at public auctions; and if he will instruct the Director of Public Prosecutions to institute proceedings.

The Solicitor-General

The documents which the right hon. Member sent to my right hon. and learned Friend have been carefully considered. In only one case were the allegations specific enough to enable an investigation to be made; on inquiry those allegations were found to be without substance. No proceedings are therefore being instituted.

Mr. Bottomley

Is the Minister aware that the very appearance of this Question on the Order Paper has slowed down this racketeering? Is it not possible for representations to be made to the police to make further inquiries on the lines of the information already given?

The Solicitor-General

The right hon. Gentleman knows that I would share his happiness if, as a result of his Question, that be so. Of course, if my right hon. and learned Friend has at any time material justifying the launching of a police inquiry, he will do so.

Mr. Daines

Is the hon. and learned Gentleman aware that this practice is also widespread at other types of auction sales, including property sales, and is it not up to the auctioneers themselves to defeat this racket by refusing to accept a bid when they are satisfied that the price is being rigged?

The Solicitor-General

I should be only too glad if anybody would adopt methods which put a stop to practices of this kind, but my right hon. and learned Friend is not answerable for the auctioneers.

Mr. Ede

Arising out of the answer given to my right hon. Friend, is it not the duty of the police to see that the law is not broken, whether or not they get instructions from the hon. and learned Gentleman's right hon. and learned Friend?

The Solicitor-General

Most certainly, and I have no reason to think that the police are shirking their duties in that matter.