HC Deb 15 March 1956 vol 550 cc542-3
22. Mr. Jay

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether his attention has been called to the boycott organised by the Tobacco Trade Association against retailers who sell cigarettes manufactured by independent firms; and what action he proposes to take.

Mr. P. Thorneycroft

I understand that some members of the Tobacco Trade Association have boycotted a retailer who sold a brand of cigarette associated with a gift coupon scheme. Agreements embodying a boycott of this kind will, under the Restrictive Trade Practices Bill, be subject to registration and to examination by the Restrictive Practices Court.

Mr. Jay

May I inform the firm—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."]—I am asking the President whether I can inform the firm which is subject to this victimisation that he will take action within three months after the passing of the Restrictive Trade Practices Bill.

Mr. Thorneycroft

No. I think that would tie me down to put what I cannot think is an important or far-reaching restriction in the forefront of all others, and I do not think that would be the right sort of priority.

Mr. Jay

Can the right hon. Gentleman name any date by which he will undertake to take some action on this particular practice?

Mr. Thorneycroft

Neither I nor the right hon. Gentleman under his scheme for dealing with restrictive practices could lay down a timetable for dealing with them all.

Mr. K. Thompson

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the situation in the tobacco trade is approaching something very near a monopoly and that if it is supported and buttressed, as it is, by the Tobacco Trade Association, which has quite extensive powers over small retailers, some mischief could result if that power were improperly used? Will he keep the whole matter under observation?

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