Westland plc (Share Transactions)

– in the House of Commons at 3:31 pm on 11th March 1987.

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Photo of Mr George Park Mr George Park , Coventry North East 3:31 pm, 11th March 1987

I beg to ask leave to move the Adjournment of the House, under Standing Order No. 20, for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter that should have urgent consideration, namely, the need for an inquiry by the Director of Public Prosecutions into share transactions in Westland plc.

The matter is specific because it refers to share transactions at a particular point in time which determined the outcome of the Westland deal. It is important because the voting decision, influenced substantially by anonymous shareholders, determined the future shape and ownership of Britain's only helicopter manufacturer, with all the implications for defence. It is urgent, because the House cannot wait for normal processes to elapse before a Select Committee report is debated, which could take several months.

Two elements arise in the Select Committee report. The first is the long-term issue of legislation; and the second—my reason for raising the matter—is the question of illegality and criminality, on which urgent Government action is required. I refer the House to the evidence to the Select Committee given by Mr. Wills, a member of the Stock Exchange Council, when he said: it screams concert party to me", and to further written evidence from the Stock Exchange Council which stated that they found it difficult to credit that overseas buyers should consider it worth their while to pay much more than what a company appeared to be worth without some collaboration with one or other of the parties involved.

I submit that the latter issue of illegality and conspiracy requires urgent action and investigation by the police. I had hoped that there would be a statement today to say that criminals had already been called in, but it seems that the Government are unwilling to treat the criminals in the City of London in the same manner as other criminals. In the face of a commercial mugging, the Government apparently want to do nothing. Because of that refusal to act, I submit that the House needs to debate this matter under its emergency procedure.

Photo of Mr Bernard Weatherill Mr Bernard Weatherill , Croydon North East

The hon. Member asks leave to move the Adjournment of the House for the purpose of disccussing a specific and important matter that he thinks should have urgent consideration, namely, the need for an inquiry by the Director of Public Prosecutions into share dealings in Westland plc.

I have listened with great care to what the hon. Member has said, but I do not consider that the matter which he has raised is appropriate for discussion under Standing Order No. 20; therefore, I cannot submit his application to the House.