HC Deb 07 April 1960 vol 621 cc550-1
25. Mr. Brewis

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he will introduce a scheme under which holders of 3½ per cent. war stock may be repaid at par over a period of years.

Mr. Barber

No, Sir.

Mr. Brewis

My hon. Friend's reply is not unexpected, but will he bear in mind that post-war credits, which is money lent compulsorily, are being paid at an accelerated rate, while with War Loan, which is money lent voluntarily, nothing is being done at all? Will he have another look at the matter?

Mr. Barber

I appreciate what my hon. Friend says, but I am sure that he, in his turn, will realise that, although there are certain similarities between the repayment of post-war credits and the position of 3½ per cent. War Loan, there are very great differences in most of the relevant considerations. I hope that my hon. Friend will realise that, whatever the legal position, it would be unfair to holders of other undated stock if we were to take the special action he has suggested in relation to this stock.

Mr. Lipton

Will the hon. Gentleman confirm that it is still the policy of Her Majesty's Government not to support the price of gilt-edged on the Stock Exchange?

Mr. Barber

That is another question.

Lady Tweedsmuir

Does not my hon. Friend agree that this stock is rather different from other securities of a similar nature in that an appeal was made that people should invest in it for patriotic reasons, and that, although it was undated, a pledge was given that it would be repaid some time after 1952? Does not my hon. Friend think, therefore, that a start could be made with the original holders of this stock?

Mr. Barber

I think that there would be great difficulty in doing what my hon. Friend suggests. She knows the difficulties only too well from the letter which my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer sent her some time ago. I would only mention to her that, whatever her views may be about what she calls the patriotic appeal, we are proceeding in accordance with the terms of issue. I think that if we were to take the sort of action which she has suggested it would be unfair to past holders of the stock who base their decision to sell their holdings on the assumption that no special action of this kind would be taken.