HC Deb 31 March 1952 vol 498 cc1262-3

Considered in Committee under Standing Order No. 84 (Money Committees). [Queen's Recommendation signified.]

[Colonel Sir CHARLES MACANDREW in the Chair]

Motion made, and Question proposed, That, for the purposes of any Act of the present Session to provide for raising further money for the development of the postal, telegraphic and telephonic systems and of any other business of the Post Office, and for the repayment to the Post Office Fund of money applied thereout for such development, it is expedient—

  1. (i) to authorise the issue out of the Consolidated Fund of such turns, not exceeding in the whole seventy-five million pounds, as may be required for the purposes of such development or of such repayment as aforesaid;
  2. (ii) to authorise the Treasury to borrow by means of terminable annuities for the purpose of providing money for sums so authorised to be issued, or for repaying to the Consolidated Fund all or any part of the sums so issued, and to authorise payment into the Exchequer of any sums so borrowed;
  3. (iii) to provide for the payment of such terminable annuities out of moneys provided by Parliament for the service of the Post Office, or, if those moneys are insufficient, out of the Consolidated Fund.—[Mr. Gammans.]

7.32 p.m.

Mr. Hobson

I want to ask a question on this Money Resolution. It concerns the £75 million which is to be taken from the Consolidated Fund, and is being paid by the National Debt Commissioners. Are the interest repayments included in that £75 million, and can the Assistant Postmaster-General say what is the rate of interest?

Mr. Gammans

The interest is not included in that sum, but the rate of interest is fixed as between the National Debt Commissioners and the Treasury. It varies from time to time on the value of annuities over a number of years. If the hon. Gentleman requires some further details concerning these negotiations, into which, strictly, the Post Office does not come, it would be as well if he were to put down a Question to the Financial Secretary to the Treasury on an appropriate occasion.

Mr. Hobson

It may be true that the Post Office does not come into these negotiations, but is not the hon. Gentleman in duty bound to give the information? What we are particularly concerned about is whether the increase in the Bank rate will affect interest repayments. That is the point on which we require information.

Mr. Gammans

I can only give the hon. Gentleman figures for the fourth quarter of last year. The rate of interest is derived from the current yield of 20-year Government stocks. The interest rate for the first quarter was 3⅜per cent., for the second and third quarters 3⅛per cent., and for the fourth quarter 4 per cent.

Mr. Eric Fletcher (Islington, East)

Surely it is extraordinary that the Financial Secretary to the Treasury is not here when we are discussing this Financial Resolution? I have never before known a Minister in charge to suggest that an hon. Member ought to put down a Question to the Financial Secretary to the Treasury. I should have thought that it was the duty of the Government Front Bench, in Committee on a Financial Resolution, to have seen that a representative of the Treasury was here, so that the Committee should be given the information which it ought to have before being invited to pass the Resolution.

Mr. Gammans

I gave the House the information. All I suggested to the hon. Gentleman was that, if he wanted information as to the normal methods of negotiations between the Treasury and the National Debt Commissioners, into which the Post Office, as such, does not enter, the proper Minister to whom he should direct his question was not myself.

Question put, and agreed to.

Resolution to be reported Tomorrow.