HC Deb 28 March 1957 vol 567 cc1321-2
17. Mr. G. M. Thomson

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will refer the wholesale distribution of newspapers and periodicals to the attention of the Monopolies Commission.

Sir D. Eccles

I have no power to do so. The Restrictive Trade Practices Act provides for the registration of restrictive agreements and for their examination by the Restrictive Practices Court.

Mr. Thomson

Has the right hon. Gentleman's attention been drawn to the circumstances in which a book on the Press by Mr. Randolph Churchill has been refused distribution by W. H. Smith and Sons, one of the biggest wholesale distributors in the country? Has his attention also been drawn to an incident in which a new Sunday newspaper was prevented from being published by monopolistic restriction in the field of newspapers Does he not agree that nowhere is freedom of competition and absence of monopolistic practices more vital than in the business of the publishing and distribution of newspapers?

Sir D. Eccles

Without my judging the merits of the question, I think the hon. Member will know that the Monopolies Commission can be seized of a reference only if one firm controls a third of the trade, and in the case of the book by Mr. Churchill that is not so. I do not know the case of the Sunday newspaper.

Mr. Jay

As the right hon. Gentleman's predecessor, in the course of the proceedings on the recent Restrictive Trade Practices Bill, gave an explicit undertaking that newspapers came within the ambit of the Bill, can he tell us whether any agreements in this trade have been registered with the Registrar?

Sir D. Eccles

We have to wait until we know what are the 1,200 practices which have been already registered. We shall know that on 15th April.

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