HC Deb 15 March 1955 vol 538 cc1107-8
30. Mr. Woodburn

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland the estimated increase, on an annual basis, of the cost to the Exchequer, local authorities and other public bodies which arises from the latest increase in the Bank Rate and from the previous increase.

Mr. J. Stuart

During the last three years Scottish local authorities borrowed on average about £60 million a year, about half of it from the Public Works Loan Board and the balance from various sources. The increase of ¼ per cent. in Public Works Loan Board rates would on this basis involve an additional annual charge of about £60,000. The increased charge in respect of other borrowing would depend on the source from which it is effected. Rather more than half of the increase would fall on the Exchequer.

As regards public bodies, the North of Scotland Hydro-Electric Board have informed me that they are not likely to require to borrow in the immediate future.

Mr. Woodburn

Can the right hon. Gentleman give any intelligible explanation as to why it is necessary so to complicate the finances of local authorities merely to stop hire purchase and other things which have nothing to do with public borrowing? Why is it necessary to interfere with public borrowing merely because the Chancellor wants to take steps to deal with financial transactions elsewhere?

Mr. Stuart

The right hon. Gentleman raises questions of high financial policy which I hesitate to embark upon at Question time, but the rates of interest of the Public Works Loan Board, of course, move—

Mr. Manuel

Move up.

Mr. Stuart

—move in step with the Bank Rate.

Forward to