HC Deb 28 July 1982 vol 28 c1081 4.48 pm
Mr. Allan Roberts (Bootle)

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 attempt now being made by the Sunlight Services Group to take over Johnson Brothers Cleaners Ltd which has its headquarters in my constituency. If allowed to continue, this would result in a totally unacceptable monopoly group dominance of the textile maintenance industry, leading to major redundancies not only in Bootle but throughout the country. At this moment, major boardroom battles are taking place as the board, management and employees of Johnson's fight to resist this takeover.

The matter is urgent because the takeover is likely to succeed unless the Secretary of State for Trade intervenes and makes a reference to the Monopolies and Mergers Commission. It is also urgent as almost 1,000 jobs are at risk including 177 in Bootle and Merseyside, 222 in London and 150 in Yorkshire which would disappear, adding significantly to the already horrifically high levels of unemployment in those areas.

This merger, if allowed, would remove from Merseyside one of its few remaining national company headquarters. Opportunities for expansion would be lost as all available resources would be needed to service the debt created by the takeover.

I ask for the emergency debate to save 1,000 jobs, to help stop the decline of Merseyside, to prevent an unacceptable monopoly in the linen rental and retail dry cleaning market, and, in the public interest, to highlight cut-throat boardroom activities that are taking place against the interests of the employees, management and customers of Johnson Brothers, who seem powerless, without the authority of the House, to prevent the operation of uncontrolled and uncaring free market forces.

Mr. Speaker

The hon. Gentleman gave me notice before 12 o'clock this morning that he would seek leave to move the Adjournment of the House under Standing Order No. 9 for the purpose of discussing the attempt now being made by the Sunlight Services Group to take over Johnson Brothers Cleaners Ltd". As the House knows, under Standing Order No. 9, I am directed to take into account the several factors set out in the Order, but to give no reasons for my decision. I have given careful consideration to the representations that the hon. Member has made, but I have to rule that his submission does not fall within the provisions of the Standing Order, and therefore I cannot submit his application to the House.