§ Mr. Spellar
To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will make a statement on carriage charges by news wholesalers to newsagents.
§ Mr. Jonathan Evans
The Monopolies and Mergers Commission's 1993 report on the supply of newspapers in England and Wales included no adverse public interest findings in respect of carriage charges, and therefore no power arose to act on them.
However, carriage charges in respect of new entrants are covered by the voluntary code of practice to govern the supply of national newspapers, agreed with the industry following publication of the MMC report. This provides that such charges should be set at an economic level in order that they are not used as a means of circumventing the prohibition on refusal to supply by making supply economically unattractive to new applicants.
If new retailers feel that their carriage charges are incorrect they should take the matter up in the first instance with the wholesaler. If this does not resolve the dispute, the retailer should make use of the arbitration process set out in the code of practice.