§ Mr. Weetch
asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will institute an inquiry into the professional conduct rules of the Law Society to ascertain their compatibility with his Department's competition policy and whether or not such rules are in restraint of trade.
§ Mr. Howard
The rules governing advertising by solicitors in England and Wales were the subject of a report by the Monopolies and Mergers Commission, published in 1976. This led to the Law Society amending its rules to permit solicitors to advertise their services and charges. The Director General of Fair Trading has a 339W general duty to keep commercial activities under review; he is always prepared to consider complaints about specific practices. In addition, he is undertaking, at the request of my predecessor, a programme of reviews into restrictions in the professions, with a view to establishing whether further relaxations would be justified. This programme includes a review of restrictions on the kind of organisation through which members of professions (including solicitors) may offer their services (for example, restrictions in inter-professional links or mixed partnerships).