The government, with Wimbledon tennis championship tickets selling for more than 3,500 percent of face value, rejected on Wednesday a demand that penalties be placed on scalpers.

One Conservative parliamentarian actually praised the scalpers for practicing "market economics," the backbone of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's economic policies.Reportedly, $44.25 tickets for the final match at Wimbledon were being sold by scalpers for $1,590.

"If the upper-class twits who run the All-England Lawn Tennis Association sell their tickets at below the market prices, they can hardly grumble," said Theresa Gorman in a radio interview.

"Market forces are being the deciding factor," she said. "All the people whom we insult by calling them touts are setting up a market. They are not doing anything more than the gentlemen of the stock market are doing - setting up a market."

Earlier in the House of Commons, Sports Minister Colin Moynihan turned down a request from a spokesman of the Social and Liberal Democrat Party for a measure that would enable ticket scalpers to be fined up to $17,700.

Moynihan said it was up to sports organizers and other bodies, such as theater managements, to put their own house in order. "It may well be that a better solution to the problem rests with tighter controls by the organizers of sporting events over the distribution of tickets and imposition of sanctions against those found abusing the controls," he said.