HC Deb 10 May 1960 vol 623 cc199-200
31. Mr. E. Johnson

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he is aware of the increasing number of take-overs and amalgamations which have occurred since the passing of the Restrictive Trade Practices Act; and if he will take steps to introduce legislation, similar to that which exists in the United States of America, in order to prevent these from taking place when the tendency of these mergers is to create a monopoly, or to substantially lessen competition.

Mr. J. Rodgers

My right hon. Friend is aware that there have been many takeovers and amalgamations. Some may be due to the operation of the Restrictive Trade Practices Act, 1956, but a number are not. The answer to the second part of the Question is "No, Sir!" but, if investigation of a monopoly appears necessary, we have the Monopolies Commission available to carry it out.

Mr. Johnson

Will my hon. Friend agree with the statements made by the chairman of British Insulated Callender's Cables Ltd. and the chairman of Associated Electrical Industries Ltd. that one of the reasons for the increasing number of take-overs is the Restrictive Trade Practices Act? Is it not clear that one of the inevitable consequences of that Act was to lessen competition instead of to increase it?

Mr. Rodgers

I said in my original Answer that some amalgamations certainly were attributable to the operation of the Restrictive Trade Practices Act.

Mr. Wade

Is the Parliamentary Secretary aware that this was foreshadowed when the Measure was passing through the House? Will he consider introducing amending legislation to cover the loopholes in the light of experience since the Act was passed?

Mr. Rodgers

No. I think that it is too early yet to consider that. The Act was put on the Statute Book only in 1956, and I think that we need a little more time to see how it operates.