It's very boring when Politicians start grand-standing and one of the worst committees in recent years has been the appearance before various non-entity parliamentary committees. These self-appointed committee's achieve little in public life but serve to further the names of the back-bench MP's keen to show the world they do something other than draw expenses and flip houses.
They have no regulatory or statutory powers - surely a sign that the Government as a whole knows better in the long-term than to trust real power to populist fools.
The latest example today, of the CEO of Pfizer appearing before the skills committee is just the latest example. Politicians who know nothing of the pharma industry are able to opine as to the CEO's position to make a pitch for Astrazeneca. He will make promises about jobs and commitment to the UK. The politicians will be unsatisfied.
There is no regulatory power to prevent a take-over of the company which is barely British anyway - created out of a series of 1990's mergers with UK, Swedish and other European countries.
Moreover, shareholders bought the shares in the company, they are their property and they have the right to decide to sell or not to sell. That really is the end of it. I find it hard for once to disagree with the IOD's statement on the matter:
"We do not believe that there is any case for extending the existing public interest test for takeovers. However, this is not to say that government has no part to play in establishing a world class environment for life sciences in the UK.
“It has a crucial role in ensuring that the UK’s university sector remains at the leading edge of scientific research and training. It should renew its efforts to promote and nurture the financing and support of entrepreneurial and start-up activity in the sector. And it will remain instrumental in determining the fiscal and regulatory environment that will attract high value added research and development activities.
“But attempting to second guess the industrial logic of takeover decisions is not one of government’s strengths, as was demonstrated throughout the 1970s at British Leyland and elsewhere. Recent proposals from Lord Heseltine and Chuka Umunna to extend the public interest test would put at risk the UK’s hard won reputation as a compelling destination for inward investment from around the world.
“Over time, excessive government intervention in the market would cost far more jobs than might be saved by efforts to politicise this particular deal.”
Grandstanding is futile and worse would be interference. Better would be acknowledgement that Big Pharma can do what it likes, the money and the research is often in the smaller start-u['s that we luckily excel in producing. Let's celebrate the desire of Big Pharma to move to the UK rather than hand-wring about management issues which may or may not come to pass.
Imagine too where we would be had blocked foreign owners take-over our car industry in the 1980's and 1990's