HC Deb 06 February 1964 vol 688 cc1309-10
5. Sir J. Vaughan-Morgan

asked the Secretary of State for Industry, Trade and Regional Development whether, in view of Her Majesty's Government's policy on monopolies and restrictive practices, he will now request the Imperial Tobacco Company to divest itself of its holding in Gallahers.

Mr. Heath

I have no reason to think that the undertaking given to my predecessor by the Imperial Tobacco Company not to interfere in the management of Gallahers has not been carried out. I am not therefore proposing to raise the matter again with them.

Sir J. Vaughan-Morgan

While accepting that there has been no interference, may I ask my right hon. Friend whether he would agree that it would be encouragement to the Monopolies Commission if one of its recommendations were carried out in full? Is not there also the other aspect, that of the interests of the shareholders of the Imperial Tobacco Company, who do not necessarily want this large holding in another equity?

Mr. Heath

On the last point, I think that it is up to the shareholders of the Imperial Tobacco Company if they want to change the policy of the firm. I have made plain the Government's attitude towards monopolies and restrictive practices and the White Paper will expand on this, but as this agreement was made and has been kept, I do not think that it would be right again to raise this question.

Mr. Jay

If he is to be so extremely ruthless with small retailers, ought not the right hon. Gentleman to avoid the appearance of being tender with these very large combines?

Mr. Heath

There is no question of being tender, but as agreement has been reached and has been adhered to. I do not think it proper to raise this question now.

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