HC Deb 28 July 1967 vol 751 cc317-8W
Mr. Molloy

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he will make a further statement on his proposals for amending the Restrictive Trade Practices Act.

Mr. Jay

In addition to the specific matters mentioned in my statement on 28th February, 1967, I said that I proposed to seek Parliamentary approval for the legislation to be strengthened and extended in a number of ways.

The principal additional measure for strengthening the Act will be a proposal, as suggested by the Registrar in his most recent report, to make it unlawful to enter into a registrable restrictive agreement without the leave of the Restrictive Practices Court. I shall not propose any new criminal sanctions, but I shall ask for power for the Registrar to seek an injunction on the lines of the provisions of Section 4 of the Resale Prices Act, 19e4. I have it in mind that unless there was later evidence that an agreement was being operated to the detriment of the public, agreements would not be referred for a full Court hearing after the "leave" hearing.

My proposals will also include the provision of an additional defence to be made available to parties to a registrable agreement which would allow them to plead before the Restrictive Practices Court that a restriction in an agreement did not restrict or deter competition to a material extent. The definition of the Board of Trade's powers in relation to insignificant agreement in section 12 of the existing Act would be amended on similar lines.

I shall also take the opportunity to clarify the law in relation to certain restrictive agreements in the field of agriculture.