My SNP colleagues and I have been consistently pressing for robust scrutiny of this proposed takeover, and that the UK Government’s decision is reached in a transparent and thorough manner. Throughout the stages of the proposed takeover, my SNP colleagues John Nicolson and Brendan O’Hara have consistently called on the UK Government to ensure that this deal passes a number of public interest tests – notably, media plurality and broadcasting standards issues.
There have been a number of developments in the proposed takeover this month. The UK Government’s Secretary of State announced that she was minded to refer the proposed deal to the Competition and Markets Authority, but allowed for further representations to be made to her by interested parties. My SNP colleagues and I fully agree that the UK Government should refer the deal to the Competition and Markets Authority to help ensure public confidence that media plurality would not be compromised by the takeover. On the final day of Parliament, the Secretary of State made a further statement to the House of Commons to inform MPs that she was still minded to refer the deal to the CMA and that she would be taking further time to consider a decision.
As you point out, this does open the possibility that a Government decision may be made on the proposed takeover during the summer recess, when Parliament is unable to provide scrutiny. My SNP colleague Hannah Bardell MP responded to the Secretary of State’s statement and urged her to ensure that any Government decision is subject to full Parliamentary scrutiny. Although the Secretary of State made no undertaking to do so, I hope that the Government will realise that any decision must command the confidence of the public that it has been made transparently and after thorough and objective consideration of the evidence.