§ Mr. Campbell-Savours
asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) if he will seek the permission 149W of Mr. R. W. Rowland, chief executive of Lonrho, to publish in the Official Report the letter to him from Mr. Rowland of December 1985, regarding the takeover of the House of Fraser; and if he will make a statement;
(2) if he will publish in the Official Report his reply to the letter he received in December 1985 from Mr. R. W. Rowland, chief executive of Lonrho, regarding the takeover of the House of Fraser; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Howard
[pursuant to his reply, 20 January 1986, c. 18]: The text of the Secretary of State's reply of 15 January 1986 to Mr. Rowland is as follows:Thank you for your letter to me of 16 December, and for your subsequent letter of 18 December to the Prime Minister to which she has asked me to reply in view of my responsibility for competition legislation.On the point you raised in your first letter: as Alex Fletcher clearly explained to you when he met you at the beginning of November 1984, the extension to the reference period was granted in the normal way, in response to a request from the MMC who were faced with several exceptionally lengthy submissions from the parties involved. As is illustrated by the fact that three other extensions to MMC reporting periods were announced on the same day as that to the Lonrho House of Fraser merger reference, such extensions are by no means a rare occurrence, and indeed I am not aware that there have been any occasions when a request by the MMC has been turned down.As for the allegations you make in your letter to the Prime Minister about her involvement, I must emphasise these decisions were taken by the then Secretary of State for Trade and Industry and that the Prime Minister played no part whatsoever in that decision.