§ Mr. Tony Favell (Stockport)
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 safeguarding of contributors to the Mirror Group Newspapers pension fund in view of a statement made by representatives of Mirror Group Newspapers last night that unauthorised loans had been made from the fund to private companies controlled by the late Mr. Robert Maxwell.This is a specific matter, in that it relates specifically to people who have contributed to the pension fund and who woke up this morning to read reports that £300 million had been spirited out of their fund. In particular, members of the former Thomson group pension fund, many of them based in Manchester at Withy Grove, the former Fleet street of the north, were urged to enter the fund by the late Mr. Robert Maxwell, who suggested that they could see no increases in their pensions unless they transferred from the former fund into this fund. It is an important matter that many of the contributors are now retired. They are elderly people who are completely bewildered by what they read and are very concerned about what will happen to them from now on.
Above all, the matter is urgent. I was pleased to see that today, since I gave notice of the application, the Serious Fraud Office has been called in. It has been said that the Department of Social Security will introduce new rules. It is also urgent, because foreign banks are already circling over what is left of the Maxwell empire, and the funds must be traced before they leave the country. It is urgent that every Department looks to see whether it has powers to freeze the Maxwell assets before they leave the country, because if they are not frozen it may be too late.
§ Mr. Speaker
The hon. Member for Stockport (Mr. Favell) seeks 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:the safeguarding of the Mirror Group Newspapers pension fund.I listened carefully to what the hon. Member said about the matter. As he knows, I have to decide whether his application falls within the Standing Order, and whether I should give it precedence over the business set down for today or tomorrow. I regret that, in this case, the matter that he has raised does not meet the requirement of the Standing Order, and I therefore cannot submit his application to the House. Nevertheless, I am sure that Ministers will have heard and will take into account what the hon. Gentleman has said.
§ Mr. Nigel Griffiths (Edinburgh, South)
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I have been given the expenditure figures that the Secretary of State placed in the Vote Office. They show that spending on tourism has been frozen at £14 million, and will drop by 40 per cent. to £10 million.
§ Mr. Griffiths
Will you, Mr. Speaker, give the Secretary of State the opportunity to come back and tell the truth to the House?
§ Mr. Griffiths
I certainly withdraw it, Mr. Speaker. Will you give the Secretary of State the chance to come back and correct the misinformation that was given?