HC Deb 11 March 1958 vol 584 cc217-9
29. Mr. Leavey

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he will make a statement about the progress of his Department in carrying out the responsibilities laid upon it by the provisions of the Restrictive Trade Practices Act.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade (Mr. F. J. Erroll)

The Board of Trade has now called up for registration all the restrictive agreements covered by the Act. Directions have been issued to the Registrar to bring before the court about 200 registered agreements; another direction will be issued shortly.

Mr. Leavey

While I am grateful to my hon. Friend for that information, may I ask him if he is aware that whereas the mere arrival of this important Act on the Statute Book undoubtedly did have a most useful effect in loosening up some of these agreements and arrangements, none the less there is a general feeling that the Act has lost some of its

Mr. Macpherson

The answer to both those supplementary questions is the same—the initiative rests with the county council in these matters.

The following is the information:

impetus and significance because of these delays; and whether he feels that anything could or should be done at this stage to re-impress upon the general public and those most intimately concerned the significance of this Act, so that it is not lost or overlaid by these delays?

Mr. Erroll

I think those concerned realise how significant and important the Act is. Of the 200 registered agreements to which I have referred, no fewer than 21 have been withdrawn rather than be proceeded with.

Mr. Jay

Is not the hon. Member's request very reasonable? As, nearly two years after the passing of the Act, no case has come before the court at all, is not the Board of Trade in danger of bringing this Act into complete disrepute?

Mr. Erroll

No, I do not think so.

Mr. Wade

Is the Minister aware that one of the consequences of the passing of the Restrictive Trade Practices Act has been a growth in amalgamations designed to avoid the provisions of the Act, and will the President of the Board of Trade refer that subject to the Monopolies Commission for a general inquiry?

Mr. Erroll

It would not be practicable to refer such amalgamations to the Monopolies Commission if they do not constitute monopolies within the terms of the Act.