The First Report of the Monopolies Commission

Publication Date01 April 1951
AuthorB. S. Yamey
DOIhttp://doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-2230.1951.tb00200.x
REPORTS
OF
COMMITTEES
THE
FIRST
REPORT
OF
THE
MONOPOLIES
COMMISSION
1.
THE Monopolies and Restrictive Practices Commission is consti-
tuted in terms of the Monopolies and Restrictive Practices (Inquiry
and Control) Act,
1948.’
The names
of
its first eight members
(six part-time) appointed by the Board of Trade were announced
in
January,
1949.
The Act, which was passed unanimously, pro-
vides
for
the investigation of industries
or
trades in which a sub-
stantial part (at least one-third)
of
the supply
(or
processing
or
export) of the goods concerned is bought
or
sold by individual
firms,
or
by inter-connected firms,
or
by groups of separate firms
who
so
conduct their respective affairs as in any way to prevent
or
restrict competition
in the production and supply of the goods.
The initiative to institute inquiries rests with the Board of Trade,
which may as they think
fit
make ‘references’ for investigation
by the Commission. The references may be of two kinds, either
limiting the Commission’s investigation and report to the facts,
or
in addition requiring the Commission to investigate and report
whether conditions and practices in the industry concerned
‘operate
or
may be expected to operate against the public
interest
’.
The Act requires the publication of the Commission’s
reports save in exceptional circumstances.
It
also makes provi-
sion for dealing with
mischiefs
’.
The Act does not declare any particular monopolistic conditions
or
restrictive practices to be illegal.
It
does not lay down that
practices which tend to weaken competition
or
to promote
monopoly are obnoxious in themselves.
It
merely provides
machinery
for
investigation of particular cases by a specially con-
stituted body, and
for
remedial and preventive action if such
is
considercd necessary by Parliament. The approach is therefore
different from that adopted in the United States of America
or
in
Canada, where anti-trust legislation has attempted
to
define illegal
acts of monopoly and restriction and to provide
for
the punish-
ment of offenders. However, to guide the Commission in assessing
whether particular activities and conditions are against the public
interest the Act indicates what matters, inter alia, should be con-
sidered. These are necessarily in general terms, and stress the
need for maximum efficiency, economy, tech’nical progress, and
For
discusflions
of
the
Act by
two
economists.
see
Rir
Arnold
l’lsnt,
Monopolies arid ReRtriFtivc
Prnctices
’,
in
Llo~/ds
Bonk
Rcvirtr,,
October, 1948, and
W.
A.
Lewis,
The
British Monopolies Act
I,
in
The
hZanchc8ter
School.
May, 1949.
1
11
dc
12
Geo.
6,
c.
66.
195

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