HC Deb 11 April 1967 vol 744 cc962-3
30. Dr. David Owen

asked the Minister of Technology what steps he is taking to encourage trans-national mergers of firms as distinct from national mergers, in order to establish larger European firms independent of American investment.

Mr. Benn

Some international firms involving companies in Europe and America are already developing. My Department is ready to suggest mergers that would be in the national interest. The Industrial Reorganisation Corporation is also able to operate internationally.

Dr. Owen

Will my right hon. Friend consider increasing the capital available to I.R.C. and establishing a co-ordinating committee, in view of the separate Ministries involved, to remove some of the fiscal obstacles to trans-European mergers?

Mr. Benn

Questions about the I.R.C. would have to be addressed to my right hon. Friend the First Secretary and fiscal matters to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, but I shall consider anything my hon. Friend says.

Mr. David Price

Will the Minister undertake on behalf of the Government not to take too xenophobic a view of mergers, and to look at them internationally, as the future clearly lies in that direction?

Mr. Benn

My original Answer makes it clear that we are prepared to recommend mergers in the national interest.