HC Deb 26 January 1956 vol 548 cc350-1
32. Mr. Osborne

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he is aware that the Central Electricity Authority has increased its hire purchase trade by over 100 per cent., and is charging only 6 per cent. interest, whereas private traders charge up to 16 per cent. interest; and if he will take steps to put the private traders on equal terms with the nationalised industry.

The Economic Secretary to the Treasury (Sir Edward Boyle)

The last Annual Report of the Authority shows that a development of this kind took place after the withdrawal of the Hire Purchase Control Orders in July, 1954. It has however, I understand, been checked since the restrictions imposed by the Orders of February and July, 1955, which apply to transactions of the public boards and private traders alike. The answer to the last part of the Question is: No, Sir; the rates of interest charged to customers are a matter for the area electricity boards and other traders respectively.

Mr. Osborne

Is my hon. Friend aware that the Electrical Contractors' Association formed a finance company to lower the charges made to their customers, that the scheme was passed by the Board of Trade some twelve months ago but was stopped by the Capital Issues Committee? Does he think it is fair that nationalised industries should have facilities for hire purchase business that are better than can be offered by the trade?

Sir E. Boyle

Questions on this nationalised industry ought to be put to my hon. Friend the Minister of Fuel and Power.

Mr. Strachey

Would the Parliamentary Secretary and his hon. Friends make up their minds whether their objection to the nationalised industries is that they charge too much or charge too little?

Sir E. Boyle

I was not aware that I said anything specifically critical of the nationalised industries.