HC Deb 29 June 1944 vol 401 cc791-2
44. Mr. Thorne

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer the amount of overseas investment up to the most convenient date; and if he intends prohibiting any more money being invested overseas.

Sir J. Anderson

In reply to the first part of the Question, I would refer to the reply given to the hon. Member for Cheltenham (Mr. Lipson) on 22nd June. In reply to the second part, it would not serve the national interest to go so far as to impose a total prohibition on all overseas investments.

Mr. Thorne

Is the Chancellor of the Exchequer not aware that the interest on these overseas investments has to be paid for, either by goods or services which come into conflict with home production? Is he not aware that the late Chancellor of the Exchequer, Lord Snowden, prohibited investment overseas?

Sir J. Anderson

My hon. Friend has opened a wide subject. I do not agree with his general view and as regards our overseas position, the fact is that our investments are at the moment far more than offset by credits which have accumulated here in favour of overseas territories.

Mr. Shinwell

Surely the right hon. Gentleman will agree that it is not the prohibition of foreign investments which matters but their proper direction?

Sir J. Anderson

I do, of course, entirely agree. There is machinery for regulating foreign investment. We are in danger of falling into fallacy, if we talk just of "overseas investments," because these include all sorts of investments, in- cluding investments in other parts of the Commonwealth, and so on. The matter cannot be dealt with just by a few figures.

Mr. Petherick

Is my right hon. Friend aware that all the investments over the last 100 years have fallen into default, and will His Majesty's Government therefore direct investments, so far as they can, to Empire countries?

Sir J. Anderson

No doubt that point will be taken into account.