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Times Newspapers

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:43 pm on 27th January 1981.

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Photo of Mr Jonathan Aitken Mr Jonathan Aitken , Thanet East 4:43 pm, 27th January 1981

I find myself in agreement with many of the sentiments expressed by the right hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond). In particular, I agree with him that one of the fundamental weaknesses of the Government's case that we have heard this afternoon was the lack of mention of the possible alternatives to ownership by Mr. Murdoch. I shall return in a moment to that theme.

Before I go further, I feel bound to say how saddened I was by the speech of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade. This is a sad day for Fleet Street, which is to see the greatest concentration of newspaper monopoly in its history. It is a sad day for the Conservative Party, which appeared this afternoon to have abandoned its traditional role of the opponent of large monopolies whenever possible. It is also a sad day for the future status and power of the Monopolies and Mergers Commission, which would appear to be coming to the end of its useful life. If this question is not to be referred to it, one might well ask what will be referred to it in future.