HC Deb 06 December 1960 vol 631 cc1041-2
11. Mr. Lipton

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what communications he has received from the American Ford Company since his decision to sanction its purchase of the British Ford Company.

Mr. Selwyn Lloyd

I have had a letter from the Ford Motor Company stating that it is its intention to maintain close consultation with local authorities on the various types of local problems which may arise for those authorities out of the industrial plans of the Ford Companies. This arose out of a discussion with its representative, following upon a meeting which I had with the Mayor of Dagenham.

Mr. Lipton

Is not that dodging the issue? Apart from the unpatriotic decision to sell a valuable national asset, is the Chancellor aware that the United States Government are not favourably disposed to this deal? In these circumstances, is it right to make things more difficult for the new President, of whom many of us have high hopes? Why not scrap the whole thing, in the interests of Anglo-American relations?

Mr. Lloyd

As to the hon. Member's suggestion that I have been dodging the Question, I would point out that I answered the Question precisely. He asked what communications I had received, and I stated the only communication I had received. He has raised another matter, which I expected to deal with in answer to another Question, but I can say that I have been in touch with Mr. Anderson, the American Secretary of the Treasury about this matter and, with his agreement, I am able to state that the United States Treasury has no intention of intervening in this transaction.

17. Mr. Ginsburg

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he will give an assurance that his permission for the sale of the Ford Motor Company will remain contingent upon the full payment being made in dollars.

Mr. Selwyn Lloyd

The Ford offer to the shareholders has been made in sterling, but it is an exchange control requirement that external sterling must be used for payment. External sterling can only be acquired by the sale across the official exchange of an acceptable currency, such as dollars. There is of course nothing to prevent the purchaser from using any external sterling balances which he already has at his disposal.

Mr. Ginsburg

While welcoming that assurance, may I ask the Chancellor to confirm that in previous transactions of this kind dollars have always been paid and that there has been no question of drawing on overseas balances?

Mr. Lloyd

I could not do that without notice.

Mr. H. Wilson

To put it beyond doubt, may we take the Chancellor's Answer as meaning that there can be no question of Fords borrowing money in this country or using Treasury bills or other investments they have in this country? Are we to understand that Fords would be free to use Deutschmarks for obtaining external sterling as well as by the sale of dollars?

Mr. Lloyd

They can do it in an acceptable currency and the acceptable currencies are gold, Deutschmarks, dollars or some of the other Western European currencies. Regarding the question of whether they are going to use balances, they would be able to use any sums they were about to transmit by way of dividends to the United States. My impression is that in fact this will be paid for by the purchase of sterling with dollars.