HC Deb 27 February 1940 vol 357 cc1894-5
49. Mr. De la Bère

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he will confer with the Minister of Agriculture, with a view to setting aside some part of the funds provided by the sale of American securities by British nationals, for the creation of a long-term Government loan available to all farmers at a low rate of interest, say 3 per cent., which would enable them to replace their existing bank advance on more favourable terms and provide additional working capital to ensure the maximum output from the farms?

The Chancellor of the Exchequer (Sir John Simon)

My hon. Friend's proposal would appear to be based on a misconception. The Treasury are purchasing certain American securities from British holders for sterling with a view to their eventual realisation for dollars. This operation does not provide the Treasury with additional funds: it only provides dollars in place of sterling.

Mr. De la Bère

If the Government were to float a long-term loan on the value of these securities from which they could advance money to the farmers at not more than 3½ per cent. this, coupled with the guaranteed prices, would enable them to pay a minimum wage to their farm workers, and would not that form a valuable nucleus for a long-term Government agricultural policy?

Sir J. Simon

I think that on reflection my hon. Friend will see that what the Treasury is doing is providing itself with dollars, and that this is not a very fitting method of doing what he desires.

52. Mr. Glenvil Hall

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer the reasons which led the Treasury, under a recent Order, to fix the price it did for the acquisition of dollar securities; whether negotiations have yet been concluded for their sale, and, if so, to whom and upon what terms?

Sir J. Simon

The price fixed was the sterling equivalent of the price for the securities in the New York market on 17th February, the date of the making of the Treasury Order, in accordance with the provisions of the Defence (Finance) Regulations. The securities will be realised as and when seems desirable.