HC Deb 19 February 1957 vol 565 cc205-6
43. Mr. Lewis

asked the President of the Board of Trade what action he proposes to take on the Monopolies Commission Report on the Radio Valve and Electronic Tube Industry; and whether he will make a statement.

53. Mr. Rankin

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he has noted the findings of the Monopolies Commission as a result of its two-year examination of the electronic valve and cathode-ray industry; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Walker-Smith

The Commission was asked to report on the facts only, and it therefore reached no conclusions on the effects of any of the industry's arrangements on the public interest. There is no provision for action under the Monopolies Act, 1948.

Mr. Lewis

The facts have caused some dismay among people throughout the country. Does not the Minister of State think that the Government should take some action? Can he deny the rumour in the Press that the reason why the Government will not take any action is that some members of the Government and former members of the Government are associated with this industry? Can he deny that?

Mr. Walker-Smith

The hon. Gentleman should not, I think, use Question Time to make this sort of innuendo—

Mr. Lewis

On a point of order. The Minister of State said that I made an innuendo. In fact, Mr. Speaker, I asked him whether he would deny statements that have been made in the Press that one of the reasons why the Government did not take action is that Ministers and former Ministers are and have been in the industry. Can you say, Mr. Speaker, whether to ask a Minister to deny a statement in the Press is to make an innuendo or not?

Mr. Speaker

That depends upon the interpretation which the House puts upon it, but to ask a Minister to deny a rumour in the Press is out of order at Question Time.

Mr. Rankin

Is the Minister of State aware that one of the facts shown in the Report is that a 14-inch cathode-ray replacement tube costs £5 6s. 1d. to make and £20 to buy? What is he going to do about that fact?

Mr. Walker-Smith

The Report shows that the profit made on the replacements is a good deal larger than the profit made on those supplied to the set makers. The hon. Gentleman will have seen that the average profit referred to fell from 17 per cent. in 1954 to 10 per cent. in 1955.