HC Deb 13 March 1980 vol 980 cc657-8W
Mr. Beaumont-Dark

asked the Secretary of State for Trade, having regard to the recent 24 per cent. increase in the price of Portland cement and its effect on the construction industry, if he is satisfied with the common pricing agreement between cement manufacturers.

Mrs. Sally Oppenheim

This is a matter for the Restrictive Practices Court. The common pricing agreement of the Cement Makers' Federation is one of the few such agreements to have been judged by the court to be not contrary to the public interest. The court found in 1961 that the agreement had resulted in lower overall prices than would prevail under conditions of free competition.

In 1973 the Registrar of Restrictive Trading Agreements sought leave to ask the court to discharge its previous decision, but the court dismissed the application. The Director General of Fair Trading—who has succeeded to the registrar's duties—nevertheless keeps the situation under review.