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Times Newspapers

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:57 pm on 27th January 1981.

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Photo of Mr Ron Leighton Mr Ron Leighton , Newham North East 5:57 pm, 27th January 1981

The Star. We must not get it confused with the Morning Star or the Daily Star. The Star was merged with the Evening News, and what did they do with that? It was shut down. It merged into the New Standard, or whatever it is called. In London, this great capital city of ours, there is a complete monopoly as a result of Associated Newspapers' actions. I hope that hon. Members will excuse me if I am not completely convinced by the arguments of the hon. Member for Thanet, East when he tells us that the answer is Associated Newspapers.

There is another point. It has been said, and I hope it is true, that Associated Newspapers is thinking of opening a new Sunday newspaper. I have heard strong rumours to that effect. If Associated Newspapers had acquired The Sunday Times there would be no incentive to start a new Sunday newspaper. Thu s, ironically, as a result of Associated Newspapers failing in that acquisition we might have another Sunday newspaper.

We all want the Times newspapers to continue. I have never noticed the The Times give conspicuous support to the Labour Party, but I still want it to continue. Like everyone else, I am prepared to pay my compliments to The Times. My right hon. Friend the Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay), whose book I am reading at present, will correct me if I am wrong, but one of the first jobs he did after achieving a double first at university was to work for The Times. Under Geoffrey Dawson, The Times suppressed reports of its two correspondents in Nazi Germany about what was happening in Germany and did not inform the British public of the truth. However, I still want to keep The Times going as an organ of public opinion and record and to provide employment.

The previous management failed grievously after the departure of the original Lord Thomson. The company then diversified out of newspapers, first, into Scottish Television—the licence to print money—and then into oil. Then, because it was, to quote the Financial Times, "awash with money", it moved its headquarters to Canada, where it could invest without having to pay the investment premium. It was then that labour relations deteriorated. The company wanted to bring in the new technology—