HC Deb 27 April 1988 vol 132 cc342-3
12. Mr. Campbell-Savours

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what representations he has received about the future of the Scottish brewing industry.

Mr. Lang

My right hon. and learned Friend has received no such representations.

Mr. Campbell-Savours

Has the Minister not received any correspondence from Scottish and Newcastle Breweries on the question of theft? What constitutes a theft? Is it when a man steals £1,000 from his building society or defrauds the Inland Revenue of £500 or is it, perhaps, when a church-going director of Scottish and Newcastle comes to Workington, to a development area, and steals the jobs of people working in my constituency? Is he not the thief? Is it not fair to say that in 100 years' time, when we are more circumspect about such matters, it will be the director of Scottish and Newcastle who will be seen as the criminal, and perhaps not the others?

Mr. Lang

Plainly, the hon. Gentleman is an expert on this subject. So far as I am aware, the shareholders of Matthew Brown accepted a takeover bid from Scottish and Newcastle, as they were free to do. I seem to recall that Matthew Brown itself closed down a brewery in Carlisle—Theakston's a couple of years ago.

Mr. John Marshall

Has my hon. Friend noticed the article on page 25 of The Times today, from which it would seem that that excellent company, Scottish and Newcastle Breweries, was frustrated in 1985 by highly questionable, if not illegal, activities on the part of the supporters of Matthew Brown plc?

Mr. Lang

I have seen the article to which my hon. Friend has referred. He will appreciate that it would not be appropriate for me to comment on a continuing DTI investigation.