18. Mr. H. Wilson
asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will refer to the Monopolies Commission the activities of the oil companies in connection with the distribution of petroleum in this country and, in particular, their purchase of and control over a high proportion of the petrol filling stations.
§ Mr. P. Thorneycroft
I am not proposing for the time being to make any further references to the Commission.
We all recognise that it is the common practice of successive Presidents not to state in advance what references they will make, but will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind the very full and fair article in a recent copy of the Economist dealing with this matter? When he is considering his next reference, will he also take into account the effect upon the distribution of oil, petrol, and, 347 above all, accessories, by the practice of oil companies buying up one petrol station after another and tying them all up?
§ Mr. Osborne
Will my right hon. Friend also bear in mind what the article says about dealing with the restrictive practices on the other side of the industry when he deals with the employers' side?
§ Mr. Beswick
Does not the President recall that it is now at least three years since he said that he was considering the reference of this industry to the Monopolies Commission? Can he say why he has been unable to make up his mind during those years?
§ Mr. Thorneycroft
My mind is made up, but I have not made a reference. I am considering the points put to me by the right hon. Gentleman.