HC Deb 04 June 1957 vol 571 cc1056-8
15. Mr. Collins

asked the President of the Board of Trade if the common price agreement in the newsprint industry has yet been registered under the Restrictive Trade Practices Act, 1956; and if he will use his powers under Section 1 (2) of the Act to ensure that the agreement receives early consideration by the Restrictive Practices Court.

Mr. Walker-Smith

I understand that such an agreement has not so far appeared in the Register. I would however remind the hon. Member that information about particular agreements can more appropriately be obtained from the Registrar of Restrictive Trading Agreements.

With regard to the second part of the Question, my right hon. Friend cannot take a decision on an agreement not entered in the register.

Mr. Collins

Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman aware that the Attorney-General mentioned yesterday that only five agreements had so far been registered? is he further aware that newsprint of admittedly varying quality is all sold at the same price? Does not he feel that this agreement should be urgently investigated, in the public interest and in the interest of the newspapers?

Mr. Walker-Smith

I do not think that the Attorney-General's Answer related to the number of agreements actually registered. I think that the Question put to him was in relation to the progress of cases towards hearing by the Restrictive Practices Court, which is, of course, a different consideration.

Mr. Jay

Does the right hon. and learned Gentleman realise that there is a great deal of anxiety about this matter? If there were an agreement in existence and it had not been registered, what would the right hon. and learned Gentleman do about it?

Mr. Walker-Smith

Any agreement which falls into the common-pre agreement category is registrable under the Registration of Restrictive Trade Agreements Order, 1956. There is provision under the Act for bringing before the Court agreements which ought to have been but have not been registered. I must make it clear that I have no reason to suppose in this case that there is any default of that sort.