§ Mrs. Ann Winterton
asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) what is the estimated cost of completion of the current inquiry of the Monopolies and Mergers Commission into the United Kingdom white salt industry;
(2) who is heading the current inquiry by the Monopolies and Mergers Commission into the United Kingdom white salt industry; and what previous experience he has of this industry;
(3) what is the purpose of the current inquiry of the Monopolies and Mergers Commission into the United Kingdom white salt industry;
(4) what compensation is made available for expenses incurred by individuals or businesses resulting from inquiries conducted by the Monopolies and Mergers Commission;
(5) when he expects the current inquiry into the United Kingdom white salt industry by the Monopolies and Mergers Commission to be completed;
(6) if he will list all those firms whose operations have so far been studied in the course of the current Monopolies and Mergers Commission study of the United Kingdom white salt industry.
§ Mr. Fletcher
The Monopolies and Mergers Commission investigation of the supply of white salt in the United Kingdom results from a reference made by the Director General of Fair Trading under section 50(1) and related provisions of the Fair Trading Act 1973. Its purpose is to determine whether a monopoly situation exists, and whether any facts found by the commission operate against the public interest.
The investigation is being conducted by a group of six members of the commission, headed by Mr. D. G. Richards, a deputy chairman of the Commission, who is a former senior partner of a leading firm of chartered accountants and a past president of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales. The report is at present due to be delivered by 13 July 1985; the details of the conduct of the investigation are a matter for the Commission who are an independent body.
It is not practicable to allocate costs to particular inquiries but the cost of the commission's programme, often of 10–12 active references at any one time, is estimated at some £2 million for 1984–85. There is no provision for compensation for expenses incurred other than in the restricted circumstances dealt with in section 85 of the Fair Trading Act.