HC Deb 22 July 1987 vol 120 c184W
Mr. Nicholas Brown

asked the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster when the report of the Monopolies and Mergers Commission on the supply of marine radio navigation receivers compatible with the Decca navigator system is to be published; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Maude

The report is published today.

The Commission found that a monopoly situation existed in favour of several subsidiary companies of the Racal Group in the supply in the United Kingdom of marine radio navigation receivers compatible with the Decca navigator system but concluded that this did not operate against the public interest.

At the time the reference was made, the DNS transmitters were operated and financed by Racal. Complaints had been made about some of Racal's practices, particularly those directed against the supply of competitors' receivers whose manufacture Racal had not licensed. Racal explained these practices as being necessary in the past in order to generate and safeguard the income needed for it to meet the operating costs of DNS transmitters. However, as a result of a contract concluded in February this year with the general lighthouse authorities Racal, while still owning the DNS transmitters in the United Kingdom, will operate them under the superintendence of the GLAs and as a charge to the general lighthouse fund, which will provide the necessary income. Racal assured the commission that following this agreement it had abandoned the practices complained of and that there was now total freedom as to the use made of DNS signals. The commission was, however, critical of Racal's having made certain changes to DNS transmissions in the past which might have compromised safety at sea. The commission therefore made two suggestions about authorising future changes to the DNS transmissions and instituting type approval for all DNS receivers.

I accept the findings of the commission's report. Because the commission found that the monopoly situation under reference did not operate against the public interest, there is no statutory basis on which to take further action. I shall, however, be drawing the commission's suggestions on authorisation of future changes to DNS transmissions and introduction of type approval for all DNS receivers to the attention of my ministerial colleagues at the Department of Transport.