HC Deb 29 January 1959 vol 598 cc1224-5
4. Mr. Swingler

asked the President of the Board of Trade if his attention has been called to the complaint made by the Staffordshire Potteries Water Board to his Department about restrictive practices in the supply of cast-iron pipes; arid what action he is taking to have this complaint investigated at an early date.

Sir D. Eccles

I would refer the hon. Member to the replies which I gave on 22nd January, 1959, to the hon. Members for Stoke-on-Trent, North (Mrs. Slater) and Stoke-on-Trent, South (Mr. Ellis Smith).

Mr. Swingler

Is the President of the Board of Trade aware that some suspicion has arisen as a result of the sudden cancellation of this restrictive agreement, following the submission of four identical tenders to the Staffordshire Potteries Water Board? Can the Minister now give a firm assurance that collusion to hold up prices for the supply of cast-iron pipes has now definitely ended?

Sir D. Eccles

I think that the termination of the agreement proves the usefulness of the Restrictive Practices Court. Now that the agreement does not exist any more, I should hope that tenders called for may be found to be competitive.

Mrs. Slater

Is the President of the Board of Trade aware that at a meeting of the Staffordshire Potteries Water Board this week a very strong protest is to be made to his Department about this; and that there is a feeling that the Board of Trade has by no means taken the action it should have done by referring the matter for further inquiry, in the interest of all local authorities with large-scale capital equipment? Would he, at this stage, make some such recommendation?

Sir D. Eccles

I have not received the protest, but this is now a matter for the Court.