HC Deb 14 May 1973 vol 856 cc1015-6
23. Mrs. Sally Oppenheim

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when he intends to implement the recommendations contained in the most recent Monopolies Commission report with regard to investigations into the practices of parallel pricing.

The Under-Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (Mr. Peter Emery)

I would ask my hon. Friend to await the statement which will be made when the report is published.

Mrs. Oppenheim

At a time when it is crucial to hold down prices, and as the area of prices for which my hon. Friend has departmental responsibility has been relatively effectively held down under the Government's counter-inflationary measures, does he not agree that investigations into parallel pricing should be carried out as expeditiously as possible in order to maintain the progress that has been made?

Mr. Emery

I thank my hon. Friend for her comments about the efforts of my Department in trying to keep down prices Where we have control, these efforts have been effective. We did not receive the commission's report until 13th April. We are considering the report as a matter of urgency and we shall deal with it as soon as possible.

Mr. Alan Williams

Is the Minister aware that the Price Commission has announced that in future it may not publish all the price approvals which it gives? Does the Minister accept that the public have a right to know which price increases are legitimate, as the retailer has the right to be able to quote the commission's decision on which his consequential price increases are based? How will the commission's policy of furtive secrecy help the ability of the public to distinguish between legitimate and illegitimate parallel price increases, such as took place in the price of petrol? Will the Minister insist that in future all approvals be published?

Mr. Emery

First, I must make it clear that the hon. Gentleman is absolutely wrong to believe that there are illegal factors, as he suggested in his question. Secondly, on his specific point about the Price Commission and the way in which publicity is given to its decisions, this matter is under review at present, as has been made clear.