HC Deb 23 February 1956 vol 549 cc569-70
52. Mr. Stevens

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether, in view of the forthcoming restrictive practices legislation which provides for the lapsing of references on which the Monopolies Commission has not prepared its final report when the new legislation comes into operation, he will instruct the Commission forthwith to suspend its inquiries in respect of all references which are unlikely to be complete at that time, thereby preventing unnecessary expenditure of time and money by the industries affected.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade (Mr. Derek Walker-Smith)

No, Sir, but my right hon. Friend is in consultation with the Corn-mission about the progress of the Reports on which it is now working. He hopes to announce the Government's intentions during the Second Reading debate on the Restrictive Trade Practices Bill.

Mr. Stevens

Would my hon. and learned Friend try to hasten that decision as soon as possible? The proposed legislation is likely to become actual legislation within the next few weeks, and these inquiries engage people in a great deal of work.

Mr. Walker-Smith

I do not think that my hon. Friend will have very long to wait for a statement of the Government's intentions. When he says that the proposed legislation will become legislation in the next few weeks, he presumably refers to the Second Reading of the Bill, and not to its final enactment.

Mr. Bottomley

In view of the Government's declared policy that they want to end restrictive trade practices, will the hon. and learned Gentleman see that nothing is done to stop the Monopolies Commission from continuing this work and completing it?

Mr. Walker-Smith

The right hon. Gentleman will see that that is provided for in Clause 23 (3) of the Bill, which relates to references on which the Monopolies Commission is working.

Mr. Wade

Can the Parliamentary Secretary give an assurance that the inquiry into level tendering will not be allowed to lapse, in view of the importance of that subject and the value of the illuminating information which may be forthcoming as a result of the inquiry which is now in progress?

Mr. Walker-Smith

The provisions of Clause 23 (3), to which I have referred, are subject to the directions of the Board of Trade, and what the hon. Members has said will, of course, be taken into account in that context.