HC Deb 23 April 1963 vol 676 cc6-7
10. Mr. Darling

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether the Monopolies Commission has completed its investigation of sales agreements between oil companies and garages and petrol dealers; and whether he will request the Commission to inquire into the exclusive sales agreement for lubricating oils which the Regent Oil Company has recently circulated to garages selling Regent petrol, before it issues its report.

Mr. D. Price

No, Sir. As regards the second part of the Question, one of the things which the Commission is explicitly required to investigate and report on is the type of agreement to which the hon. Member refers.

Mr. Darling

Would not the hon. Gentleman agree that the long delay in this inquiry reveals the fact that the Government made a grave mistake when they emasculated the Monopolies Commission six years ago against our advice and protest? Would not he also agree that it is altogether wrong for the Caltex Company to make a new and more stringent agreement with garage proprietors while this inquiry is going on? Is he aware that the other oil companies have played the game and have given what help they could to the Monopolies Commission? Does not he realise that if the other oil companies now alter their agreements this inquiry will never be completed?

Mr. Price

I would not agree with the first part of that supplementary question. As the hon. Gentleman knows, once an inquiry is set up, the Commission acts independently of the Board of Trade and takes what time it thinks necessary. Nor can I agree with the second part of the supplementary question, in which the hon. Gentleman said that the Commission had been emasculated. This type of agreement is within the Commission's terms of reference, and this shows how wise the Government were when they drew up those terms.