HC Deb 31 July 1916 vol 84 cc2231-4

(1) For the purpose of local loans there may be issued by the National Debt Com missioners the following sums, namely:—

  1. (a) For the purpose of loans by the Public Works Loan Commissioners, any sum or sums not exceeding in the whole the sum of one million five hundred thousand pounds:
  2. (b) For the purposes of loans by the Commissioners of Public Works in Ireland, any sum or sums not exceeding in the whole the sum of two hundred thousand pounds.

(2) The sums so issued shall be issued during a period ending on the day on which a further Act granting money for the purposes of those loans comes into operation, and in accordance with the provisions of the National Debt and Local Loans Act, 1887.

Mr. WATT: I beg to move, in Sub-section (1), at the end of paragraph (a), to insert the words "of which the sum allotted to Scotland shall be three-fifteenths of the whole sum so issued."

The Committee will see that whereas a sum of £200,000 may be issued to Ireland, Scotland is lumped with England, and the sums for both countries are £1,500,000. The effect of my Amendment would be that a sum of £100,000 greater than that allotted to Ireland would be allotted to Scotland. This lumping together of England and Scotland in the past has led to Scotland getting much less than her proper share of these loans for public works. That has been the experience of many years, and the Amendment I have suggested would necessitate the Treasury lending to Scotland £300,000 of the sum given to England. Under Sub-section (2) these sums are to be administered in accordance with the provisions of the National Debt and Loans Act, 1887, one of the Clauses of which enacts that the money is to be issued by the Bank of England and Bank of Ireland. No notice is taken of any Bank of Scotland, so that for loans issued to Scotland a commission is paid to the Bank of England. This is a great grievance suffered by Scotland in connection with all loans issued by the Treasury.


I am surprised that the Secretary to the Treasury is not yet on the Treasury Bench to deal with this important matter, but I understand that he is coming, and I hope he will explain how it is that the interests of our country are so much overlooked in the drafting of these particular Bills. The very interesting speech just delivered by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for the College Division of Glasgow (Mr. Watt) is one which indicates the closeness with which he has always followed matters appertaining to his and our native country. He has before now complained very particularly and specifically of the injustice done to Scotland in confining so many issues of war loans to English banks, while not providing similar facilities in Scotland. That leads him to make this suggestion, as it also induces me to support him, in asking that it should be definitely stated in this Bill what Scotland will get, unless it is the intention of my right hon. Friend to give Scotland more than the proportion suggested by my hon. Friend. We have in Scotland lost so frequently by not having a specific reference to the amount to be set aside for Scottish needs that I am glad my hon. Friend has waited so long to make this point. I think the Secretary to the Treasury is ready to reply to a speech which he really ought to have heard, because, had he heard it, I am sure he would have had great difficulty in replying to its many points.


I can quite understand that my hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Watt) would be so ingenious that he would be difficult to reply to. I apologise for being late, but the lack of supply of petrol has diminished the supply of taxicabs, and I have been delayed through a cause over which I had no control. I was engaged in a duty for which I am sure my hon. Friends would excuse me, namely, helping to entertain on the part of the Government the overseas delegates. With regard to this Amendment I do not think it is desirable that we should deal with these matters by any arithmetical proportion or by giving a fraction. In time of war the real criterion is necessity, and I do not think it is desirable that we should divide the money up in proportion to the population of the different parts of the Kingdom. We are all most anxious not to spend money which is unnecessary, and I am sure in that ambition my hon. Friends will quite agree with me. I hope they will not feel it necessary to press this Amendment. The case of Ireland is altogether different, and our position in Scotland is not one which will compare with the conditions in Ireland. The effect is that necessary public works have had to be suspended to a very large extent during the War. We are all trying to see how much we can save at the present time, and I appeal to my hon. Friend to look at the matter from that point of view.

11.0 P.M.


The right hon. Gentleman was not aware of all the points put by me and by my hon. and learned Friend, and he has failed to take notice of the Sub-section about commissions paid to the Bank of England and the Bank of Ireland for the Loans issued. I want some arrangement made by which the Bank of Scotland can issue these public Loans, and something ought really to be done to give a Scot- tish bank the same status as the Bank of England and the Bank of Ireland have in this matter.

Question, "That those words be there inserted," put, and negatived.

Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.