§ 50. Mr. Meadowcroft
asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether Her Majesty's Government's competition policy distinguishes between monopolies in the private sector and monopolies in the public sector.
§ Mr. Howard
The Fair Trading Act 1973 provides for references to the Monopolies and Mergers Commission of monopolies by both the Secretary of State and by the Director General of Fair Trading (though the latter is excluded from making references in respect of certain goods and services, including some in the public sector). In addition, section 11 of the Competition Act 1980 provides for references by the Secretary of State of public bodies, including nationalised industries. Such references are directed primarily at efficiency, costs and service, but may include the possible abuse of a monopoly position.
In pursuing their programme of returning state-controlled industries to the private sector, the Government's policy is to establish where appropriate special regulatory regimes to prevent monopoly abuse and encourage efficiency.