Only a few days to go: We’re raising £25,000 to keep TheyWorkForYou running and make sure people across the UK can hold their elected representatives to account.

Donate to our crowdfunder

Times Newspapers

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

Alert me about debates like this

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

I can only say that the right hon. Gentleman did not extend his powers of persuasion very far. I am sure that it will be the contention of many on both sides of the House that it would not need great powers of persuasion, given the money in the equation, to make the Thompson Organisation extend the deadline by three or four weeks. If we do not refer this bid to the Monopolies and Mergers Commission we might as well tear up the fair trading legislation. The Act is a dead letter if it is not to be used in this case.

We should look at the other objection which has been raised by some of the people who work for the present Thomson Newspapers. All three of the printers' unions have written to my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition saying that they hope that there will not be a referral and rather regretting the fact that there was to be this debate. I have to say to them that there are matters of more concern and more moment here than the printers' belief that they can do a deal with Mr. Murdoch on mutually satisfactory terms, perhaps with mutually agreeable assumptions. The assumptions that Mr. Murdoch may have about how to run newspapers, which could be met by some of the printers in the same way that Mr. Murdoch met those assumptions in New York when he outmanoeuvred all other proprietors, are not necessarily those that should commend themselves to the House.

Many of the printers are friends of ours. In party political terms, they sit with us in Labour Party committees that deplore the concentration towards monopoly. I do not know how they vote, but they deplore concentrations of ownership and the Tory control of the mass media. They should look more seriously than they have done so far at the way in which Mr. Murdoch's newspapers have operated and the way in which this concentration of power would operate politically in this country.