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House Of Fraser

Volume 165: debated on Wednesday 17 January 1990

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10.

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what representations he has received regarding publication of the report on House of Fraser.

I have received a number of representations, the great majority of which are in favour of my publishing the inspectors' report into the affairs of House of Fraser Holdings plc. I will do so as soon as possible.

It is five years since the alleged irregularities and fraud took place, and 18 months since the previous Secretary of State received the report. Nothing can be done about alleged wrongful transfers of assets because of the previous Secretary of State's decision not to refer the issue to the Monopolies and Mergers Commission. Does my right hon. Friend accept that it is almost an insult to open government and justice not to publish the report and not to tell people exactly what went on?

As I have already told my hon. Friend, I will publish the report at the earliest moment consistent with the even-handed administration of justice.

How early is the earliest possible moment? Is the Secretary of State aware that many of us who knew little about the matter until we saw television programmes have been shocked at what has been happening? Is it not time that not only the House but the entire population had a proper report of what happened in that case?

How early is as soon as possible? It is as soon as I can do so. The hon. Gentleman should reserve judgment until it is possible to publish the report, which I have already said I will do as soon as that is appropriate in the light of possible proceedings.