HC Deb 30 June 1960 vol 625 cc1544-5
26. Mr. Peyton

asked the President of the Board of Trade for what reasons the Treasury has lent £128,000 to Milford Docks, Ltd.; and on what terms.

Mr. Maudling

The loan of £128,000 as announced by the chairman of this company was made under the Distribution of Industry Acts for the purpose of providing the company with finance to enable it to handle the increased business expected to be offered at the dock and thereby to reduce the rate of unemployment in the locality. The terms of the loan are confidential.

Mr. Peyton

Can my right hon. Friend say whether or not this company could have found the finance from normal sources without having recourse to the Exchequer? More generally, now that we have an instance of one chairman who is not quite so shy, does my right hon. Friend think that those companies which are getting admitted and definite advantage from public sources should not have their convenience subordinated to the interests of Parliament and the country?

Mr. Maudling

It is not a matter of their convenience. It is a matter of making the policy work. I am not concerned with the convenience of the companies. I am concerned with getting companies into areas where employment is needed. That is the important thing to bear in mind. On this particular case, the provision in previous legislation was that people could apply to D.A.T.A.C. for help only if they could not get money elsewhere. Under the new legislation recently passed by the House, the condition that the Government should be the lender of last resort no longer obtains.

Mr. J. Griffiths

Have not the Government and Parliament a special responsibility for employment in this area? We built a dockyard there and established hundreds of people there. Then it was closed suddenly and it was left a derelict area. Should not the Government be doing something now to repay the debt that we owe to this community?

Mr. Maudling

I think that what the Government have been doing is helpful. This loan, like other loans, is made in accordance with the recommendation of the independent and expert committee appointed under legislation passed by the House.

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