§ MR. BELLAIRS (Lynn Regis)
To ask the Secretary to the Treasury what is the total approximate sum accruing to the Cunard Company for the whole period during which payments are due in respect of the two fast vessels now building, allowing for both the subsidy and for the difference between the rate of interest which the company are paying on £2,600,000 lent by the Government and the approximate rate of interest at which a limited liability company can borrow in the open market.
(Answered by Mr. McKenna.) Under the agreement sanctioned by Resolution of the House of Commons on August 12th, 1903, an annual sum of £150,000 will be payable from Votes to the Cunard Company, subject to the fulfilment of certain conditions. This payment is to run, as to one moiety, from the first sailing of the first of the two fast vessels: as to the second moiety, as from the first sailing of the second vessel; and is to continue for twenty years from the latter of these dates. The sum to be advanced to the company for construction of the two vessels is not to exceed £2,000,000. The sum advanced will be repaid by the company in twenty equal annual instalments, of which the first will be payable one year after the date of the first sailing of the second vessel. The advance will bear interest at 2¾ per cont. per annum, on one moiety, from the date of sailing of the first vessel, on the other moiety from the date of sailing of the second vessel. To enable my hon. friend's Question to be answered it would be necessary to know (1) the amount which the Government will ultimately advance; (2) the dates at which the future instalments of advance will be made; and (3) the rate at which a limited liability company can borrow in the open market. I am not prepared to commit myself to an opinion on the third point, and the other two are still uncertain.