HC Deb 22 January 1980 vol 977 cc219-20


'In section 83 of the Fair Trading Act 1973 (laying before Parliament of reports under that Act)—

  1. (a) at the beginning of subsection (1) there shall be inserted the words "Subject to subsection (1A) below"; and
  2. (b) after subsection (1) there shall be inserted the following subsection:—

Brought up, and read the First time.

The Ministry for Consumer Affairs (Mrs. Sally Oppenheim)

I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.

Mr. Deupty Speaker (Mr. Bernard Weatherill)

with this we may take Government amendments Nos. 38 and 39.

Mrs. Oppenheim

This new clause arises out of an assurance given to my hon. Friends the Members for Romford (Mr. Neubert) and for Loughborough (Mr. Darrell) in Committee and also as a result of strong representations made to us that it is unreasonable to publish reports about firms without giving them sufficient advance notice of the contents of the reports to enable them to reply to inquiries from the press. Therefore, we bring forward these limited amendments requiring that a report be disclosed 24 hours before publication. The amendments apply to all reports of the Monopolies and Mergers Commission under the Bill and also to monopoly reports under the Fair Trading Act where similar considerations apply.

There is no provision relating to the Director General's preliminary reports, but he has assured me personally that he will follow the same procedure. There is no need to write this into the Bill because the Director General's reports are not laid before Parliament and there would be no question of discourtesy to Parliament in prior disclosure.

Mr. Michael Neubert (Romford)

I thank my right hon. Friend. On behalf of the Government, she has met the point of principle that was raised in Committee. Her action will be widely welcomed in industry. There was an inadvertent element of injustice in the proposals as drafted, and the new clause meets the case that was made. I express my gratitude on behalf of other hon. Members concerned and myself.

Questions put and agreed to.

Clause read a Second time, and added to the Bill.

Forward to