HC Deb 03 December 1959 vol 614 cc1364-5
27. Mr. Spriggs

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer the total value of subsidies given to the British Transport Commission, the National Coal Board, the Electricity Board, and the Gas Board, since each of these industries became publicly owned; and the difference between the subsidies paid to the above publicly-owned industries and the subsidies paid to each of the above industries when privately owned over the last corresponding period of private ownership.

Mr. Barber

No subsidies have been paid to any of these industries since they were nationalised. As regards the second part of the hon. Member's Question, a number of grants of relatively small amount, were paid to the industries during the years 1935 to 1946, mainly to meet problems caused by the war and to encourage industrial development in areas of unemployment. It would not be possible to quantify these without an undue expenditure of time and effort.

Mr. Spriggs

When the hon. Gentleman is considering with his colleagues making subsidies or grants to private industry, will he bear in mind at the same time that publicly-owned industries, upon which the national economy rests, could do with an infusion of economic help?

Mr. Barber

I explained in my original Answer that no subsidies had been paid to any of the industries since they were nationalised. They are, however, able to borrow considerable amounts from the Exchequer. Since 1956, when the new system came into operation, they have borrowed £1,208 million from the Exchequer.

Mr. Shinwell

Why does the hon. Gentleman say that relatively small amounts were paid to privately-owned industries, now nationalised, before the war? Is he aware that under the Baldwin Government £25 million were conceded to the private-owned mining industry by way of subvention? Is £25 million a relatively small amount?

Mr. Barber

I do not wish to be discourteous to the right hon. Gentleman, but when I said "relatively small" I meant relatively small in relation to the other figure which I gave.