HC Deb 03 December 1959 vol 614 cc1355-6
14. Mr. McKay

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer the amount of subsidies paid to farmers, and the value of the investment and initial allowances they received in tax relief, in the year 1958; the value of the initial and investment allowances paid to the National Coal Board in the same year; and the value of the special investment allowance paid to the shipbuilding industry for 1958.

Sir E. Boyle

The amount of subsidies paid to farmers in the financial year 1958–59 is estimated at £238.8 million. The value in terms of tax relief of the investment and initial allowances received by farmers in the same year is estimated at £5 million. As regards the third part of the Question, I cannot disclose information about the fax affairs of a particular concern. I assume that the fourth part of the Question relates to the shipping industry; the value in terms of tax relief for the year 1958–59 of the investment allowance given for capital expenditure on new ships is estimated at £22 million.

Mr. McKay

I observe that the Financial Secretary has not given any figures relating to any benefit received by the mining industry in the form of investment allowances or anything else. Is it not rather peculiar that the Exchequer is helping industry throughout the country in various ways, by means of grants and so on, and yet the Coal Board is being charged £32 million by way of interest? In view of the grants given to the fishing, farming and horticultural industries, is not it time that grants were given to the mining industry?

Sir E. Boyle

We cannot debate the mining industry, and I cannot go beyond the steps which the Leader of the House explained when winding up the debate on the Address. The Government are taking three steps: first, the provision of finance to enable large stocks of coal to be held; second, the re-examination of the power station oil contracts, which leads to an increase in coal consumption; and third, a check on opencast production and its virtual elimination by 1965. I cannot go beyond those three points.

Mr. Jay

Would the Financial Secretary agree that in principle there is just as good an economic case for national support for home-produced fuel as there is for home-produced food?

Sir E. Boyle

I should say there was certainly a good case for special measures to encourage productive efficiency in the country, which is the whole point of the investment allowance. On the point relating to the coal industry, I cannot go beyond what I have said.