HC Deb 03 December 1957 vol 579 cc201-2
24. Mr. Stonehouse

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies the nature of representations he has received from the West Indies Standing Federation Committee regarding the rate of interest charged on loans by the Colonial Development Corporation and what reply has been given.

Mr. Profumo

The Standing Federation Committee has asked that the rates of interest charged on Exchequer advances to the Colonial Development Corporation should be reduced so as to enable the Corporation to provide finance for development projects at rates of interest not greater than those prevailing before the recent increase in the Bank Rate. The Committee's request has only recently been forwarded to my right hon. Friend and he has not as yet given a reply.

Mr. Stonehouse

I thank the hon. Gentleman for that reply. May I ask him and his right hon. Friend to bear in mind that many worth-while long-term projects in the Caribbean and elsewhere will be held up if the Colonial Development Corporation is not enabled to make loans at a reasonable rate of interest?

Mr. Profumo

I can assure the hon. Member that there is little direct evidence that colonial development as a whole has been seriously prejudiced by high rates of interest.

Mr. Marquand

Can the hon. Gentleman give an assurance that the work of colonial development will not be confined in future by an excessively high Bank Rate in this country? Is it possible to carry on colonial development on the basis of charging extremely high rates of interest which may be justified in the London money market but have no justification whatever in relation to colonial development?

Mr. Profumo

I think it would he better if my right hon. Friend were permitted to examine this application and make a reply before I say any more.