§ Mr. D. N. Campbell-Savours (Workington)
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 need for action to prevent further purchase of shares by the Kuwaitis in BP, Britain's largest oil producer.The matter is urgent because the British Government are standing idly by while Arabs buy up Britain's oil industry and North sea operations. The Arabs, by close of play on Friday, owned nearly 20 per cent. of BP. To avoid generating public hostility they have been busily buying BP shares through London broking houses. The Government should act urgently to prevent the sell-out of Britain's interests. We need action now because the undertaking given by the Kuwaiti investment authorities that they have no ambition to control BP has not prevented them from approaching the figure of 30 per cent. of the shares when a full bid would be triggered.
The OFT has not acted because it is powerless to do so. The matter is important because the Government's negligence in allowing that development to take place should be exposed. The Government created the special conditions in which an increasingly unnecessary privatisation on the back of a collapsing stock market could be used by the Kuwaitis to pick up Britain's oil assets on the cheap. Furthermore, the Government have been prepared to stand idly by and allow City underwriters to offload their BP stocks on to the Kuwaitis, enabling the Government to avoid the embarrassment of having to buy back shares under the infamous Lawson agreement.
If the Kuwaitis had not bought the shares, the Government now would be making excuses for a failed privatisation. In effect, they have used the Kuwaitis to save their political skin. The matter is specific because the Government should be required to give a clear statement as to why Britain's national interests are to be sold.
The other week, Britoil was calling for a white knight to save them from the predatory actions of BP. Today, I am asking the Government to act as a white knight to save BP from the predatory actions of the Kuwaitis.
§ Mr. Speaker
The hon. Member for Workington (Mr. Campbell-Savours) asks leave to move the Adjournment of the House, under Standing Order No. 20, for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter that he believes should have urgent consideration, namely,further purchases of shares in BP by the Kuwaiti Investment Office.I have listened with care to what the hon. Member has said, but I regret that I do not consider the matter that he has raised can be considered under Standing Order No. 20. I cannot therefore submit his application to the House.