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by RAY FLEMING

“SHUTTING the stable door after the horse has bolted” might be the obvious comment on the appearance of Marc Firestone, Vice-President of Kraft, at the UK Parliament's Business Select Committee on Tuesday, but it would not be altogether correct. Kraft made promises about job security at Cadbury's UK factories in order to help it get support for its take-over bid earlier this year. As soon as the deal was done the company announced that the plant at Somerdale near Bristol would be closed with a loss of 400 jobs. The immediate protests at this move led Kraft to have second thoughts and give Somerdale a two-year stay of execution. But the MPs on the Business Committee were not going to be appeased by that concession and they gave Mr FIrestone a roasting, reminding him that Kraft had made similar promises when it took over Terry's but subsequently moved production to Poland.

Mr Firestone said three times that Kraft was sorry for the way in which it handled the Somerdale incident and it is probably true to say that Kraft will be extra careful from now in its management of Cadbury. However, perhaps the Commons Committee might now consider whether it should hear from some of the major shareholders in Cadbury who were tempted by short-term considerations to take Kraft's offer rather than think of the long-term benefits of Cadbury remaining a British company.