§ Mr. Maude
[holding answer 1 December 1988]: In its Green Paper on restrictive trade practices policy (CM331) the Government have proposed fundamental changes to restrictive trade practices legislation.
Under the proposals, agreements which have significantly anti-competitive effects would be prohibited but controls on agreements with no such effects would be relaxed. There would also be provision for restrictive agreements which meet certain criteria to be exempted from the prohibition. It is too early to say how the proposed new legislation will apply to co-operation arrangements between the self-employed and small firms; this will depend to an extent on the object or effect of the particular arrangements.
My Department is currently developing the proposals in the Green Paper in the light of comments received from interested bodies and the views of organisations representing the self-employed and small firms are being taken into account.