R.P.M., Trading stamps & taxes
— MP at trader's meeting
Speaking at a meeting of the Finchley Chamber of Commerce, Mrs. Margaret Thatcher, MP, commented on the Resale Price Maintenance Bill which is before Parliament. She pointed out that a number of objections which traders have against the abolition of R.P.M. are being ironed out by several amendments to the Bill.
Originally the Bill meant that suppliers had to apply direct to the Registrar if they wished to retain price maintenance. The Registrar would then have to bring that particular group of goods before the Court.
Now, however, the Bill stated that those who wanted to continue price maintenance would have to register their intention with the Registrar for Restrictive Practices, but he would not necessarily bring all restrictive practices before the court.
A second amendment was that a person could now apply for exemption under the Act if he could prove that withdrawal of price maintenance would cause danger to health in consequence of the misuse of goods. This was directed mainly at chemists and others who sell medicine.
Another ground for exemption would be that withdrawal of price maintenance might lead to a general increase in prices.
In all, said Mrs. Thatcher, there were now five grounds for exemption under the Act.
Mrs. Thatcher also referred to a number of private bills which are now before the House. One was on the giving of trading stamps and, if passed, would mean that a cash value would have to be shown on the stamp.
“Some people might be quite surprised when they see the cash value” , said Mrs. Thatcher.
The Bill also provided that stamps could be redeemable for cash and that the catalogue issued by the stamp firms should state the cash value of a full stamp book.
Trading stamp companies would also have to publish their accounts and, said Mrs. Thatcher, she thought the Bill was a considerable advance. “I am all for people knowing what they are getting and being able to ascertain the value they are getting in return for the money they pass over.”
After mentioning a number of other Bills, all designed to protect the public, Mrs. Thatcher, then turned to the much vexed question of taxation.
Not the highest
It was not true that those living in the United Kingdom were the most highly taxed people in the world. Taking all types of taxation, including social security contributions, France was the highest taxed country. West Germany next, then the Netherlands. Fourth, over ten per cent behind France, was the U.K.
The law affecting trade unions was also referred to by Mrs. Thatcher.
This question has been highlighted by the recent case in which a draughtsman employed at London Airport had resigned from his union. His employers still wanted to keep him on, but the unions threatened to go on strike if he was still employed, and so he was given notice.
The man eventually decided to sue the trade union officials concerned. The case took many years to decide, but eventually the House of Lords held that the man was entitled to damages.
This has opened up the whole question of the rights of trade unions under the present law, which was last reviewed nearly sixty years ago.
The Government now feel that the law should again be reviewed, with the willing co-operation of both employers' associations and trade unions, “free from the atmosphere of political controversy” , and they have pledged themselves to undertake such an inquiry in the early life of the next Parliament.