HC Deb 17 November 1960 vol 630 cc529-30
11. Mr. Wingfield Digby

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in view of the fact that local authorities' borrowing from the Public Works Loan Board has decreased from £364 million in 1955–56 to £45 million in 1959–60, and that this is due to their reluctance to borrow at the high rates of interest charged by the Board, whether he will now assist small local authorities, who have difficulty in borrowing from other sources, by making better terms available to them.

Mr. Barber

No, Sir. I do not think that arrangements should be introduced which would enable small local authorities to borrow on more favourable terms than large ones.

Mr. Wingfield Digby

But does not my hon. Friend realise that these figures are very significant indeed and that the little local authorities, particularly those with a population of fewer than 10,000, are at a great disadvantage as against the larger ones?

Mr. Barber

With regard to the figures contained in my hon. Friend's Question, there has been, of course, a compensating rise in local authority borrowing from other sources. As for the small local authorities, it is fair to point out that in 1959–60 the Public Works Loan Board advanced £45.3 million and that of this only £2 million went to county councils and county boroughs and all the rest was loaned to the smaller local authorities.

Mr. H. Wilson

Is it not a fact also that in 1959–60 we had the Report of the Radcliffe Committee, a highly authoritative body consisting of persons of distinction in banking, finance and economics and certainly not representing the views of my hon. and right hon. Friends, which nevertheless strongly recommended action on the lines proposed by the hon. Member for West Dorset (Mr. Wingfield Digby)?

Mr. Barber

It was, of course, after full consideration of the Report of the Radcliffe Committee that we confirmed the view which has been held by the Government since October, 1955, that local authorities should borrow as far as possible on the market in their own name and on their own credit.