HC Deb 19 November 1973 vol 864 cc920-1
2. Dr. Gilbert

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will seek to incorporate the Take-over Code in statutory form in his coming review of company law.

Sir G. Howe

The Government will seek powers in the forthcoming Companies Bill to deal with certain specific abuses which may occur in take-over situations.

Dr. Gilbert

Does the right hon. and learned Gentleman accept that it simply will not be good enough to leave the matter merely on the basis of what is in his White Paper with regard to insider trading and warehousing? There is a whole range of other abuses that the Take-over Panel, through no fault of its own, is unable to deal with. There is a need for statutory power and rigid enforcement to deal with them.

Sir G. Howe

Clearly there are certain matters which require statutory powers and enforcement by means of an Act of Parliament, but equally clearly there are others which are more susceptible of remedy by means of a self-policing organisation of the kind represented by the Take-over Panel. It is a matter for consideration where the line should be drawn.

Mr. Torney

Is the Minister aware that there is grave discontent in the city of Bradford among workers employed by Associated Weavers because of the proposed take-over by an American company? Is he aware that the trade union concerned has been in contact with me because the factory is in my constituency? Will he investigate the take-over and try to ensure that that rather large firm, employing many Bradford people, stays British?

Sir G. Howe

So far as lies within my power to do so, I shall consider any evidence the hon. Gentleman places before me.

Mr. Benn

When may we expect the Companies Bill? Shall we be able to debate it at an early date?

Sir G. Howe

The Bill is at an advanced stage of preparation, but I cannot yet tell the House when it is likely to be forthcoming.