Old Labour takes stand against Enterprise Bill

Backbench Labour MP Harry Barnes claims to have mustered 30 MPs ‘many with sound trade union links’ in a bid to amend clauses, set out in the Bill, which remove ministers’ powers to intervene.

These powers were made law by former Tory prime minister Sir Edward Heath over a quarter of a century ago.

Under the main provisions of the Bill, whose purpose is to modernise bankruptcy and competition law, merger decisions will be taken by independent competition authorities against a competition-based test rather than use the current public interest test.

Barnes said: ‘Anyone, right, left or centre who believes that jobs, the maintenance of export markets and a healthy distribution of industry and services around the country are worth fighting for, needs to be pressing the government on this issue.

‘New Labour often claims that the market should be our servant and not our master. Markets can deliver much of value but are best operated with the wider public interest in mind.

‘The Government has this badly wrong,’ he concluded.

The Enterprise Bill has reached its second reading in parliament, and will be debated in Commons after this reading is completed.

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