HC Deb 20 November 1958 vol 595 cc1311-2
22. Mr. Marquand

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what proportion, by value, of the securities of iron and steel undertakings taken over by the Holding and Realisation Agency from the British Iron and Steel Corporation still remains vested in the Agency.

Mr. Erroll

In view of the changes in the capital structure of many companies and of additional investment in companies by the Agency, it is not possible to give a simple answer in the form sought by the right hon. Member. I will, however, with permission, circulate in the OFFICIAL REPORT a table showing the position as at 13th July, 1953, and 30th September, 1958.

Mr. Marquand

Is the Economic Secretary aware that his right hon. Friend told me on Tuesday that securities, including loans still held by the Agency, amount to no less than £185 million? Does not this mean, even in round figures. that although denationalisation has been on the Statute Book for seven or eight years, it has completely failed and the industry has been denationalised, at most, by only 40 per cent.? As all the capital required for the new steel undertakings in Wales and Scotland, which were announced on Tuesday, must some from public funds, will the hon. Gentleman instruct the Agency to tell the directors of steel companies to get on with their real business of making and selling steel and stop dabbling in politics?

Mr. Erroll

The table which I am circulating shows that there has been a reduction of almost £150 million in the assets held. As regards the raising of money by the Government for the steel industry, that would not arise were it not for the threat of renationalisation which is repeated by hon. Members opposite.

Mr. Strauss

Do not the figures published in the last Report of the Agency show that two-thirds of the total value of the securities taken over by the Agency, including fixed interest and loan capital, still belongs to the Agency? Therefore, is it not the present situation that collectively those companies taken over by the Agency, which are the major part of the iron and steel industry, are managed by private people and most of the profits go to private individuals, but that the real ownership is still that of the State?

Mr. Erroll

No. I ask the right hon. Gentleman to look at the table which I am circulating. I would not expect such a supplementary question from a man who knows so much about company structure.

Following is the table:

The change which has taken place between 1953 and 1958 is shown in the following summary:
13th July, 1953 30th Sept., 1958
£ million £ million
Book value of securities in subsidiary companies 252.3 42.0
Loans by the Corporation/Agency to subsidiary companies 57.4 7.7
Book value of debentures, loan stock and preference shares in companies which have ceased to be subsidiaries (nominal value£158 million) 125.5
Loans to companies which have ceased to be subsidiaries 16.5
Obligations as guarantor to repay advances by Finance Corporation for Industry Limited 39.5
Obligation as guarantor of 3 per cent. Debenture Stock 1952–57 of The Steel Company of Wales Limited 15.1
Obligation to make advances to The Steel Company of Wales Limited 23.5
Total of investments and obligation of the Agency £ 364.3 215.2
A reduction of: £149.1 million