HC Deb 04 June 1959 vol 606 cc494-6

[Queen's Recommendation signified.]

Considered in Committee under Standing Order No. 84 (Money Committees).

[Sir CHARLES MACANDREW in the Chair]

Motion made, and Question proposed, That, for the purposes of any Act of the present Session which enables schemes made with a view to eliminating excess capacity in the cotton industry to provide for paying compensation for any such elimination, it is expedient to authorise the payment out of moneys provided by Parliament—

  1. (a) of contributions to any such compensation the contribution not to exceed two-thirds of the compensation; and
  2. (b) of grants towards expenditure incurred in re-equipping businesses in any section of the industry for which such a scheme is brought into force, the grant not to exceed 495 one quarter of the expenditure incurred on the purchase and installation or modernisation of machinery and equipment; and
  3. (c) of any administrative expenses incurred by the Board of Trade for the purpose of the Act, whether in connection with the bringing into force of any such scheme, or the making of any such contributions or grants, or otherwise;
and this Resolution shall authorise the making of contributions to compensation and of grants with reference to things done at any time since the twenty-third day of April, nineteen hundred and fifty-nine.—[Mr. Simon.]

10.0 p.m.

Mr. J. T. Price (Westhoughton)

Before the Motion is put to the House, may I point out that, according to the Preamble to the Bill, the Government expect that the conditions laid down in the Bill will require Government finance to the extent of £30 million over five years. Would I be in order in asking the Parliamentary Secretary or the President of the Board of Trade to say whether this figure is a ceiling or whether it is a flexible and elastic amount which can be controlled in either direction according to the circumstances? We are not entitled to dismiss large sums of public finance without public control in this slap-happy way. I wish to know whether this figure can be relied on as a firm figure and that this Government with their record will not be given carte blanche to spend public money without effective public control.

10.2 p.m.

The President of the Board of Trade (Sir David Eccles)

As the hon. Member knows, this figure is an estimate. It had to be made up from the estimates of the various sections based on what they thought would be the cost of compensating the surplus capacity; also—and of course that is the larger part of the estimate—on their guess at the total amount to be spent for re-equipment and modernisation. As I said in my speech, those estimates will be examined in detail by the five-man committee of the Cotton Board and the chief executive. We have made it clear that the amount of the total contribution from the Exchequer cannot be unlimited and we shall have each one of these sectional schemes brought to the Board of Trade when we will be able to consider the terms for compensation.

I cannot give the hon. Gentleman any assurance that this is an absolutely firm figure, but both sides of the table realise and accept that it is more or less the sort of sum that will be required.

Question put and agreed to.

Resolution to be reported.

Report to be received upon Monday next.