§ Mr. Jack Straw (Blackburn)
I beg to present a petition relating to the proposed takeover of Matthew Brown brewery by the Scottish and Newcastle brewery.
Because of the importance of petitions to constituents, I have always endeavoured to present them on a Friday morning. This is the first occasion since I was given this and another petition that I have been in the House on a Friday morning, as on other Fridays I have been in my constituency.
It is within the knowledge of the House that the Scottish and Newcastle brewery sought to make a takeover bid for Matthew Brown, which is based in my constituency, and which also owns the Theakston brewery based at Masham, with other breweries in Carlisle and elsewhere in Cumbria.
The bid was resisted by the board of Matthew Brown, by its employees and by all those who had ever had the opportunity to compare the products of Matthew Brown with those of Scottish and Newcastle. The bid was also resisted by hon. Members on both sides of the House, but especially by my hon. Friend the Member for Burnley (Mr. Pike), among others. I am glad to say that following that pressure, the bid was referred to the Monopolies and Mergers Commission—
§ Mr. Straw
Of course, Mr. Speaker, I accept what you say. However, I took the opportunity to read "Erskine May", and I hoped that I was presenting what amounted to the brief statement that Members may make in support of a petition.
The petition is supported by 2,500 signatures. It reads:
To the Honourable the Commons of the United Kingdom…The Humble Petition of we, the citizens of Lancashire, showeth That the proposed takeover of Matthew Brown plc by Scottish and Newcastle plc would be against the public interest, and harm employment and consumer choice, and lead to monopoly. Wherefore your Petitioners pray that your honourable House should not permit this takeover.And your Petitioners, as in duty bound, will every pray, etc.
To lie upon the Table.