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Volume 129: debated on Wednesday 9 March 1988

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To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what steps he intends to take to reduce the scale of takeover activity and the consequent loss of jobs in Wales, Scotland and the north of England.

Mergers policy has been under review. The main conclusions were announced in the recent White Paper "DTI—the department for Enterprise"; and more detailed conclusions were set out in the Department's policy document "Mergers Policy" published on 3 March. The Government's policy is that the main—though not exclusive—consideration in determining whether mergers should be referred to the Monopolies and Mergers Commission will be their potential effect on competition. Where competition is not affected, the Government believe that it is normally right for proposed mergers to be decided by the market without intervention by official agencies. But mergers may occasionally raise other issues which affect the public interest and the discretion to refer them to the MMC is to be retained.