HC Deb 10 July 1952 vol 503 cc1505-6
32. Mr. Patrick Maitland

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will take steps to make clear to the banks that they should ease credit terms for those who wish to bid at auctions of industrial equipment and surplus stores held by order of the Ministry of Supply, when conditions of sale require immediate cash payment of at least one-fourth of each successful bid.

The Financial Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. John Boyd-Carpenter)

No, Sir. Each application for credit must be judged upon its own merits by the banker concerned, bearing in mind, among other considerations, my right hon. Friend's request to the banks, which he announced in reply to a Question by my hon. Friend the Member for Ealing, South (Mr. Maude) on 7th December, last.

Mr. Maitland

While thanking my hon. Friend for his reply, may I ask whether we are to understand that a person who may wish to bid at a Government sale of surplus material may legitimately apply to his bank for credit, in the light of the Question which I have asked and the answer which has been given?

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

That is a matter between the potential bidder and the bank.

Mr. P. Roberts

Is my hon. Friend aware that the policy of restricting credit is having a frustrating effect upon consumer-goods sales? Is it likely that the Government will make a statement in the near future about the restriction of credit and the order to the banks?

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

My right hon. Friend has already indicated the general request which he has made to the banks. If my hon. Friend has any particular question in mind and will let me know it, I will gladly look into it.

Mr. Woodburn

Is the Minister aware that his reply is ambiguous and that the banks have instructions that there is a policy of credit restriction? May I support the request from his own, side to give encouragement at these sales to people who are re-equipping their industry for the benefit of production in this country?

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

A general request—not instruction—has been made to the banks which they will interpret in their own good sense in any particular case.

Viscount Hinchingbrooke

Now that financial priority has been changed from the defence programme to the overseas balance of payments, is it not of first-class importance that reconsideration should be given to the instructions which were given to the banks in December last in order to see whether those instructions are now in conformity with the present policy of the Government?

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

I think the request of my right hon. Friend to the banks covers both contingencies and if my hon. Friend will look at that again I think he will find that it is satisfactory in the circumstances.