SOME THOUGHTS ON MONOPOLY*

DOIhttp://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9485.1967.tb00760.x
AuthorE. A. G. Robinson
Publication Date01 June 1967
Date01 June 1967
SCOTTISH
JOURNAL
OF
POLITICAL
ECONOMY
JUNE
1967
SOME THOUGHTS
ON
MONOPOLY*
E.
A.
G.
ROBINSON
IF
one looked at the problems of monopoly in the United Kingdom
twenty five years ago there was very grave reason for concern.
Our
only protection lay in the Common Law presumption that contracts
in restraint of trade were unenforceable.
But
they were not illegal.
Moreover the principle of unenforceability had been progressively
eroded.
It
had long been accepted that
an
individual, if he were to sell
a business, required to be able to restrain himself from competing with
the purchaser. The acceptable area of restraint was gradually increased
as businesses grew. And without enforceability, price restrictions,
market sharing and the rest could operate and be honoured. It is no
exaggeration
to
say that, despite the work of the Committee on Trusts
of
1919
and the work of
a
number of individual economists who had
studied the extent of monopoly in the United Kingdom, we knew re-
latively little about the actions of monopolies and had virtually no
effective defence against them.
The Monopoly (Inquiry and Control) Act
of
1948
fmt created the
Monopolies Commission. The Amending Acts of
1953. 1956
and
1964
have created the Restrictive Practices Court and modified the scope
of responsibilities and the methods of working of the Monopolies
Commission. All this has created a defence against the exactions of
monopolies, which, if not yet complete, is at least immensely more
effective than anything we had possessed in the past.
Today
I
do not propose to talk in detail either about the legisla-
tion itself, or about the work of the Restrictive Practices Court or
*The second annual Scottish Economic Society Lecture delivered
in
the
1
97
University
of
Edinburgh
on
22nd February,
1967.

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