§ 27 and 29. Mr. John Hall
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) if, in addition to existing arrangements for the repayment of post-war credits, he will repay a further fixed sum each year by way of drawings through the medium of the electronic random numeral indicating equipment;
(2) if he will reduce the age at which post-war credits will be repaid.
§ The Financial Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. J. E. S. Simon)
I would refer the hon. Members to the reply given to the hon. Members for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey) and for Feltham (Mr. Hunter) on 11th November.
§ Mr. Hall
Is my hon. and learned Friend aware that I made the suggestion contained in my first Question in the most helpful spirit? I am sure that the Chancellor of the Exchequer must have great difficulty, if he is considering facilitating the rate of repayment, in deciding between the conflicting views of many people who think they have a 553 special claim or privilege in this question. Would not the use of E.R.N.I.E. as an impartial arbitrator greatly assist him in the solution of this problem? If I may deal with the second of my Questions which my hon. and learned Friend has answered, is it not a fact that for many people very soon the post-war credits will become posthumous credits?
§ Mr. Simon
I recognise readily the helpful spirit in which my hon. Friend asked this Question. Nevertheless, I think that if money were available for further release it would probably be best to distribute it by way of a reduction in the qualifying age for repayment rather than by random selection. With regard to the second part of my hon. Friend's supplementary question, I would refer him to the answer which was given by my right hon. Friend on Tuesday.
§ Mr. Hirst
Is my hon. and learned Friend aware that I am well aware of all these stonewalling answers, and of many we had had before? Is he further aware that, however valid they were in the context and time in which they were made, they surely cannot continue to exist in the present state of the economy, which has at least undergone some measure of change?
§ Mrs. Braddock
In view of the public concern arising out of this matter, would not the hon. and learned Gentleman look at the situation and at any rate release post-war credits to the next of kin upon the death of a person who owns them? That ought to be administratively possible quite easily. It would certainly go a long way towards easing some of the great criticism which there is of the lack of action in this matter.
Mr. H. Wilson
While I would be the last person to underestimate the hon. and learned Gentleman's power of stonewalling, may I ask if it is not a fact that we have now been told officially by no less a person than the Lord Mayor of London that St. George at 10, Downing Street, 554 has slain inflation, and in these circumstances, as the argument against repayment of post-war credits needs rather urgent reconsideration, without waiting for an election Budget, will the Government consider paying off post-war credits in cases of acute hardship among widows. pensioners, and others on National Assistance?
§ 28. Mr. John Hall
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what further consideration has been given to the possibility of accepting post-war credits in payment of Estate Duty.
§ Mr. Hall
Is my hon. and learned Friend aware that a large number of Government creditors have been waiting at least thirteen years for repayment of their forced loans? Would he not therefore offer the same interest-free credit terms to those who are liable to pay this destructive tax on capital, and if he will not do so, will he explain the justification for the differential treatment?
§ Mr. Glenvil Hall
Will the Financial Secretary tell us how much is now outstanding under this heading and what would be the effect if the Chancellor saw his way to reduce the ages of men and women by five years in each case?