HC Deb 24 June 1954 vol 529 cc566-7
11. Mr. Swingler

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will state, for the capital equipment which has so far been sold to private individuals or companies under the Act to denationalise the iron and steel industry, how much compensation was paid therefor at the time of nationalisation, and how much has been paid therefor in the process of denationalisation.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

I doubt whether the comparison requested in this question has much significance as it does not involve comparing like with like. But, including Stewarts and Lloyds, the Iron and Steel Holding and Realisation Agency has received or is about to receive some £68½ million gross in cash or Government securities. It also retains for future disposal holdings in the companies concerned to a figure of £46.8 million, taken at nominal paid-up values. There will also be added in due course certain other credit items rising out of these transactions, and in particular the Agency retain the shares in the Steel Company of Wales formerly held by one of these companies. The value of the Agency's investment in these companies, based on compensation values as properly adjusted and attributable, is calculated at £108.8 million.

Mr. Swingler

Cutting through all that, is it not perfectly possible, taking into account the changed value of money, to give us the straightforward facts about what they were paid in compensation and what is now being paid, so that, taking into account some of the notorious deals now going on, the public may know what is the loss of money involved in the sale of these assets?

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

If I gave the hon. Gentleman merely the figures for the amount of compensation paid, without taking into account either additional capital put into the industries concerned, or other changes that have been taking place, I should be misleading him; and I should be making the comparison less favourable from his point of view because, on that basis, the compensation figure would be £106.3 million instead of £108.8 million which I gave him.

Mr. Nabarro

Is it not a fact that there has been no loss of public money involved in the transactions which have been completed to date—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"]—and that the Realisation Agency has steered a reasonable course in realising the assets which Parliament placed a duty upon it to do?

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

There are many factors which make a straight comparison at this stage difficult but I agree with my hon. Friend that the Realisation Agency has done a good job for the country.