65. Miss WARD
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he has any information as to the extent to which the Government of Northern Ireland is affording Irish shipbuilders assistance, either directly or indirectly, through the banks or through or any other agency?
§ The FINANCIAL SECRETARY to the TREASURY (Mr. Hore-Belisha)
I am informed that no assistance is given by the Government of Northern Ireland to shipbuilders in that country. If my hon. Friend has in mind the facilities afforded to shipowners under the Loans Guarantee Acts for the construction of ships in Northern Ireland, I understand that the guarantees given amount to about £1,250,000 over the last two years.
Is there any truth in the rumour that a sum of money equivalent to the unemployment benefit which would have been paid if the work involved in 790 a contract had not been obtained, is being paid by the Northern Ireland Government to the bank?
§ Mr. HORE-BELISHA
I can hardly answer for rumours, but I have given my hon. Friend the facts for which she asked. If she wants to know any further facts and will give me notice, I shall be happy to inquire into the matter.
§ Mr. GRAHAM WHITE
Would the Financial Secretary say, without notice, whether his answer covers also the municipal authorities?
§ Mr. D. D. REID
On a point of Order. If there was a guarantee, about which I know nothing, as this is a matter within the control of the Northern Ireland Parliament and there is no Minister in this House who could be responsible for the transaction, is the question on the Paper in order?
§ Mr. SPEAKER
Since the hon. Gentleman has asked me, looking at the question I should say that it was not a matter for the Minister.
§ Mr. H. WILLIAMS
Is it not competent for a Minister to furnish Members of this House with information as to what subsidy a foreign Government may be granting, even though no Minister here is responsible, assuming that the information comes within the knowledge of the Minister?
§ Mr. SPEAKER
So far as the Minister can give information the question would be in order, but of course the Minister has no responsibility in the matter.