§ 1. Mr. Janner
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer the amount still outstanding for the payment of post-war credits; and whether he will state the number of applications made to him for payment on hardship grounds.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr. Derick Heathcoat Amory)
The answer to the first part of the Question is £443 million; and I regret that the answer to the second part is not known.
§ Mr. Janner
Is the Chancellor aware that the hardship grounds referred to are those of people who are very direly in need of this money? Will he at least do something to relieve this hardship?
I think that the hon. Member knows that the difficulty is, and always has been found by previous Governments to be, that of defining hardship for this purpose. It has been thought best to allocate the money that is available to repayment on simple grounds of age.
Mr. H. Wilson
Will the right hon. Gentleman confirm the general impression in the country that he is holding back any action on this question until the immediate pre-Election Budget?
§ 2. Mr. Janner
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he will consider lowering the age to 50 years at which all people shall be entitled to post-war credits.
§ Mr. Janner
Will the Chancellor now answer a supplementary question from 194 me in the same terms as that asked by my right hon. Friend the Member for Huyton (Mr. H. Wilson) on the previous Question?
If I had to answer that, the answer would be that I cannot anticipate my next year's Budget.
10. Mr. Slater
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer the amount of post-war credits outstanding at the present time; what effect the release of the whole of such credits would have upon the economy; and how the present figure compares with those of 1956 and 1957.
There are £443 million of post-war credits outstanding at the present time. The total was £461 million in July, 1957, and £478 million in July, 1956. The effect on the economy of releasing the whole of these credits would depend on how fast and to what extent they were spent. This cannot be forecast with any accuracy.
Does the Chancellor not think that the time has now arrived when the same treatment ought to be afforded to those people holding post-war credits as has been granted by Tory Chancellors ever since 1951 to big business interests in this country?
What the hon. Gentleman says does not seem to me to be relevant in the slightest degree to the problem covered by this Question.
§ Mr. Hale
If the hon. Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Nabarro) would not interrupt me, Sir, I am quoting precisely what the Chancellor said in answer to Question No. 1 and not what he said it was a year or two ago. In view of the fact that the figure is over £460 million and that it is thirteen years since the war, has there not been a capital gain by Her Majesty's Government of £300 million because of the reduction in purchasing power when the money is paid out, and a gain of £30 million, making £790 million out of which these people have 195 been swindled? And on what has he spent the money? Was it spent on guided missiles?
As the hon. Gentleman started his supplementary question with the wrong figure, I think that the deductions he has made are probably wrong too.
§ 4. Mr. Janner
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what would be the cost of paying interest at 2½ per cent. to all those entitled to post-war credits.
§ Mr. Janner
Does not the right hon. Gentleman feel that he is doing a very mean thing to people who have their money invested in the Government by not giving them some kind of return? He is taking £11 million out of the pockets of people who, in many instances, cannot afford it, and does he realise that, in addition, the disastrous economic policy of the Government—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."]—yes, indeed—is reducing the value of the money which is held by the Government against these reluctant creditors.
As far as there is anything in the last part of the hon. Gentleman's supplementary question, it would be considerably more true during the period when he and his right hon. and hon. Friends were in office.