§ Mr. Stainton
asked the President of the Board of Trade if he is aware of the take-over bid made jointly by Messrs. Courtauld and the Reed Paper 183W Group for Wall Paper Manufacturers; if he is satisfied that this will not lead to a monopoly position nor unduly inhibit competition in the respective manufacturing and distribution fields; and whether he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Jay
Yes, and I am considering the matter. The Government have, however, at present no power to intervene in a transaction of this kind or to arrange for it to be examined by any statutory body. As my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister recently told the House, a Bill will be introduced this Session which will enable the Government to deal with mergers. This Bill,184W which I hope to introduce shortly, will give the Government authority to initiate investigations of mergers and powers to deal with mergers which, after investigation, are deemed to be against the public interest. Until this legislation is before the House, it would not be right for me to say more about its contents or to indicate how it might affect any particular merger. In preparing this legislation, however, I have had very much in mind situations of the kind disclosed by merger proposals of this type and the need for the Government to have adequate powers to deal with them.