HC Deb 05 December 1972 vol 847 cc1102-3
Mr. Edward Milne

I beg to ask leave to move the Adjournment of the House, under Standing Order No. 9, for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter that should have urgent consideration, namely, the Government decision to refer the takeover by Sears Holdings of William Timpsons, the footwear retailers, to the Monopolies Commission, allowing the United Drapery Stores to proceed with their offer. Since giving you notice, Mr. Speaker, of my intention to move this Motion, I believe that the Charles Clore undertaking, Sears Holdings, has withdrawn its offer. But that does not minimise the importance of this subject and the urgent necessity to deal with it.

For the first time in the history of this House the Department of Trade and Industry has allowed one party in a two-way take-over to be referred to the Monopolies Commission, leaving the United Drapery Stores free to move in. During the past few weeks we have witnessed the unsavoury spectacle of a battle in the City involving £50 million or £60 million at a time when workers are being lectured for asking for wage increases of very small amounts. This take-over battle to which I have referred has resulted in profit making on a vast scale in the City and on the Stock Exchange.

The debate which is to follow is extremely important. For that reason, I shall not continue with the argument. However, I think I have proved that this is a matter which is both specific and important. It requires urgent attention, and in my view we ought to have an early debate on it.

Mr. Speaker

I have the hon. Gentleman's notice of Motion. He was kind enough to send it to me in writing. I have considered the matter. The decision that I have to make is not concerned with the merits, but whether I should give it precedence over other business. I cannot grant the hon. Gentleman's application.

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