HC Deb 24 April 1990 vol 171 c117W
Mr. Soames

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will make a statement concerning his policy on referring completed mergers to the Monopolies and Mergers Commission.

Mr. Ridley

Section 64(4) of the Fair Trading Act 1973 provides that I may refer a qualifying merger to the Monopolies and Mergers Commission (MMC) within six months of the date of the completion of the merger or the date on which material facts about the merger are made public or made available to me or to the Director General of Fair Trading. In addition, I am required, under section 64(5) of the Act, to make my decision on whether or not to refer the merger as soon as is reasonably practicable.

Many mergers are either made public or discussed with the Director General of Fair Trading before they take effect. But when a merger is completed before any such announcement or discussion, I am anxious to be in a position as soon as possible to decide whether it should be referred to the MMC. In such cases therefore I shall be looking to the director general for early advice, and to the companies concerned for their cooperation with his Office to enable him to give it. If, in such a case, I had reason to believe that the merger could raise competition or other public interest issues, and that the director general's inquiries were not being answered fully and promptly, I would not allow the lack of full information to deter me from requiring an investigation by the MMC.