HC Deb 12 June 1945 vol 411 cc1457-9
57. Mr. Pethick-Lawrence

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether, in view of the raising of the limit from £10,000 to £50,000 of the amount free from control by the Capital Issues Committee, he will consult with the Industrial and Commercial Corporation with a view to ensuring that loans below £50,000 should only be provided by it when the objects of the firm or company seeking the accommodation accord with the Memorandum of Guidance to the Capital Issues Committee (Cmd. 6645).

Sir J. Anderson

No, Sir. The exemption limit of £50,000, like the previous limit of £10,000, is of general application whatever the source of the proposed borrowing. If the decision to raise the limit is justified, as I think it is, it should apply Irrespective of the source of the borrowing and cannot therefore afford any ground for seeking assurances from one particular lender.

Mr. Pethick-Lawrence

Does not the Chancellor of the Exchequer recollect that when I asked that these financial corporations should exercise hot merely financial considerations but also national considerations he told me that I need not trouble about that because it would be attended to by the Capital Issues Committee? Now he has abrogated it by increasing the limit from £10,000 to £50,000. It makes a considerable difference. As that is so, he ought to insist that these financial corporations should take into account national as well as financial issues.

Sir J. Anderson

I recollect very clearly what I said on that occasion. What I said was that, in order to ensure that capital resources should be directed into the most useful channels, it would be necessary in the future, as in the past, to rely on the machinery of the Capital Issues Committee. That machinery remains intact It is perfectly true that I recently announced an increase in the previous limit of £10,000 to £50,000, but I do not think that affects the principle. As regards these institutions, as I explained at the time, they merely represent the provision of further facilities for borrowing but they do not involve any new principle; they will not be under the control of His Majesty's Government, and I am sure they will take a very public-spirited view of their functions.

Mr. Pethick - Lawrence

Are they allowed to take a public-spirited view? Are they not constrained to take merely a financial view?

Sir J. Anderson

No, Sir, I do not think I said anything to justify that impression. I would like to make the position perfectly clear. They are not under any obligation to take a purely financial view. Indeed, I explained that the larger of the two corporations, which is the only one so far established, would be so constituted as to ensure that it would take a broad view and not a harrow financial view of its responsibilities.

Mr. A. Bevan

What steps will the Chancellor of the Exchequer take to en- sure that they do take a national view of their responsibilities; how are we in this House to ensure that they do so, and to whom are we to address our Questions?

Sir J. Anderson

I think the hon. Gentleman knows perfectly well that hon. Members can address Questions to Ministers only on matters for which those Ministers take responsibility, What I have said, and I repeat, is that, so far as Government control is concerned, it is to the machinery of the Capital Issues Committee that one must look. That machinery remains intact. If existing arrangements are found not to be working entirely satisfactorily there is nothing to prevent us making adjustments so far as experience may suggest necessary.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

We have had some very long answers on this Question, and I will now call the Prime Minister's Question No. 45.