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Times Newspapers

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:02 pm on 27th January 1981.

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Photo of Mr Phillip Whitehead Mr Phillip Whitehead , Derby North 5:02 pm, 27th January 1981

I congratulate the hon. Member for Thanet, East (Mr. Aitken)—who is associated with me in the early-day motion, which 92 hon. Members have signed, calling for the referral of the proposal to the Monopolies and Mergers Commission—upon his speech.

Public life needs what Thomas Jefferson called the artillery of the press. It should not be thought by anyone on either side in politics, or as a result of any speech or partisan contribution to the debate, that the direction of that artillery and where it is laid down should condition our opinion of the free press. I do not detect in this debate the views and opinions of the Secretary of State, who has given us his verdict that the referral should not be made. I detect the opinions of the Prime Minister. I think that it is the Prime Minister who has dictated that Rupert is owed a favour and that the proposal should not go to the commission. The Minister is an honourable man and a man somewhat given to private and public agonising.