HC Deb 29 July 1964 vol 699 cc348-9W
Mr. Fletcher-Cooke

asked the Secretary of State for Industry, Trade and Regional Development whether he has now completed his consideration of the matters raised by the Report of the Monopolies Commission on the Supply of Wallpaper; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Heath

Yes. The Monopolies Commission made recommendations in regard to the Wall Paper Manufacturers Limited:

  1. (1) acquiring interests in other wallpaper manufacturers
  2. (2) reviving the practice of exclusive trading and
  3. (3) terminating their existing resale price maintenance arrangements.

The Wall Paper Manufacturers Limited has given me satisfactory assurances in respect of all three of the recommendations of the Monopolies Commission. In the matter of acquiring other wallpaper manufacturers, the company has accepted that it should consult with the Board of Trade in the case of a manufacturing competitor offering his business to it and that it will not seek to acquire effective control of any independent United Kingdom wallpaper manufacturing firm in which it may already have some interest falling short of control; the company has also agreed that if at any time in the future any other company were to seek to acquire a controlling interest in it, it would bring the matter to the attention of the Board of Trade.

In the matter of exclusive trading, the company has accepted that it should consult with the Board of Trade in the event of its wishing to revive the practice; to this it has made a reservation that, in the event of a similar practice being adopted by any of its competitors in such a manner as to harm the Company's interests, it should be free to act at its own discretion, subject to its giving the Board of Trade at least three months' notice of its intention.

The company has further agreed not to seek the benefit of exclusive dealing by other means and that it would be ready to discuss with the Board of Trade any complaint at any time in the future that its monopoly power was being used in any way to prejudice access of its competitors to the distribution arrangements for wallpaper.

In the matter of resale prices, the company has undertaken to terminate its existing resale price maintenance arrangements, in so far as these are for the purpose of maintaining minimum prices, with effect from the date upon which Section 1 of the Resale Prices Act is brought into operation by Board of Trade Order. The company has reserved the right to review this decision should wallpaper become exempted goods under the Act or in the event of a material change in circumstances. The company has no present intention of making an application for exemption for wallpaper under the Act.