§ 5.2 pm
§ Mr. Kevin Barron (Rother Valley)
I beg to ask leave to move the Adjournment of the House, under Standing Order No. 20, for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter that should have urgent consideration, namely,the thousands of illegal multiple applications for shares in last year's British Gas privatisation".It has been brought to public attention today by the accountants, Touche Ross, brought in to police the flotation of British Gas, that they have discovered what appear to be some substantial attempts at fraud in the British Gas share offer.
That report surely calls into question the Government's entire privatisation programme, both past and planned. That public assets such as British Gas should be put at the mercy of organised share-dealing rings and individuals, whose whole motivation is private greed, is a disgrace.
The public and the House have a right to know whether the Conservative party will write to British Gas shareholders for donations to its fighting fund, and also issue a survey asking those people what should be sold off next from the public sector, as it did to British Telecom shareholders.
Touche Ross must be congratulated on using, for the first time, computers to cross-check names and addresses. It is a shame that that system was not used in the past, as it would, presumably, have saved the right hon. Member for Chingford (Mr. Tebbit) the bother of writing six times to an hon. Member of this House asking for his party's paydirt for the selling off of the national asset of British Telecom.
Finally, it is thought that the multiple applications alone are larger than the 6,600 in the British Telecom case, and that the sums of money involved are higher. This House should have the opportunity to discuss this specific and important matter before the Government proceed with any further privatisation, especially with the proposed sale of Rolls-Royce, which seems to make this a matter for the most urgent consideration. I beg to seek leave to move the Adjournment.
§ Mr. Speaker
The hon. Gentleman asks leave to move the Adjournment of the House for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter that he believes should have urgent consideration, namely,the thousands of illegal multiple applications for shares in last year's British Gas privatisation".I listened with concern to what the hon. Gentleman said, but I regret that I do not consider the matter which he has raised as appropriate for discussion under Standing Order No. 20, and I cannot, therefore, submit his application to the House.