§ 17. Mr. Spriggs
asked the President of the Board of Trade how many applications he has received to date for financial assistance under the Local Employment Act; which localities are concerned; what is the estimated financial assistance given up to the latest 182 convenient date; and, where loans have been made, what is the sum involved and the interest charges.
§ Mr. J. Rodgers
Of the 134 applications now under consideration, the five which are for building grants under Section 3 of the Act are from England. Of the 129 applications for grants and loans under Section 4, 38 are from England, 22 from Wales and 69 from Scotland. So far offers of assistance totalling £56,000 have been made in three cases, the terms and conditions of which are confidential between the applicant and the Board of Trade.
§ Mr. Spriggs
I wish to ask the Parliamentary Secretary to confide to the House the interest rates charged today, because I think it is in the interests of the House as a whole that this confidential information should be given to Parliament.
§ Mr. Rodgers
These negotiations between industry and the Government are confidential transactions and have always been so regarded. This raises an important point of principle. We have never divulged, for example, the names of those in receipt of agricultural subsidies, and, for that matter, the principle is applied right through all the schemes for Government assistance. Were we to reveal the amounts given and the terms on which they are given or loaned, that might operate against the effective implementation of the Local Employment Act and frustrate the purpose of making the loans.
§ Mr. Jay
Although there is a good argument against giving exact details of individual transactions with the names of firms, is there any reason why the Parliamentary Secretary should not give the average rate of interest, for instance, of all the loans which we have been granted without giving any names of firms?
§ Mr. Rodgers
I will bear that point in mind, but, as I have indicated, we intend to lay an annual report in general terms before the House.