HC Deb 25 April 1939 vol 346 cc979-80

There is one other matter on which I must make a short statement, because it is important to have it on record. I must refer briefly to the changes in the National Debt total. During the year, in addition to borrowing to meet the Budget deficit of £12,750,000, we raised £128,000,000 for issues under the Defence Loans Act, including the amount of the Budget surplus of 1937 which had been applied temporarily in that year to reduce the floating debt. We also raised £10,250,000 to meet advances to Turkey and Czecho-Slovakia authorised by legislation during the year, and £2,500,000 for issues under the North Atlantic Shipping Act. Those are the main items going to increase the National Debt during the year.

On the other hand, we applied to the redemption of debt altogether just over £20,000,000; £13,250,000 out of revenue, £6,250,000 out of sums received under the Agreement with Eire; and £750,000 from miscellaneous sources. In all, the cash raised by borrowing exceeded that applied to redemption of debt during the year by £133,250,000. That does not exactly correspond with the increase in the nominal total of the debt, because the latter increase included an issue at a discount. The increase in the nominal total of the National Debt was £137,000,000. Thus the net total of the National Debt increased during last year from £8,026,000,000 to £8,163,000,000. Of this increase, £81,200,000 is represented by 3 per cent. National Defence Loan issued at a price of 98 in June last. The Committee will remember that recent legislation in the form of the Currency and Bank Notes Act effected changes in the machinery of the Exchange Equalisation Account, but in accordance with custom I am able to give an assurance that that Account continues to show a profit.