HC Deb 05 May 1964 vol 694 cc1094-7
15. Mr. Grey

asked the Secretary to the Treasury if he has reached a decision regarding the siting of additional premises for the Royal Mint; and if he will make a statement.

20. Mr. Millan

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what sites he is considering for the rebuilding of the Royal Mint.

21. Mr. W. Hamilton

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what factors he is taking into account in considering the resiting of the Royal Mint.

22. Mr. Willis

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he expects to make an announcement about the rebuilding of the Royal Mint.

23. Mr. Lawson

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he will remove the Royal Mint to Scotland.

24. Mr. Ross

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what proposals he has for rebuilding the Royal Mint.

25. Mr. Gourlay

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what representations he has received about removing the Royal Mint from London.

26. Mr. Pentland

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what steps he is taking to ensure that the North-East of England is given full consideration when considering the rebuilding of the Royal Mint.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

Neither rebuilding nor extension of the Mint is an immediate prospect, and it would therefore be premature to select a site.

Mr. Grey

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the Secretary of State for Scotland seems to have more information than he has, and has already indicated that there is a possible chance that the Royal Mint will go to Scotland? If there is to be a transfer, will the North-East——

Mr. Ellis Smith

And Stoke-on-Trent.

Mr. Grey

—be given a chance, and if it is, will the right hon. Gentleman give a guarantee that there will be no funny business such as there was over the removal of the Post Office Savings Bank?

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

I certainly cannot, in reply to the last part of that supplementary question, but on the main part and point of it, when the time comes the claims of all parts of the country will be very carefully considered.

Mr. Willis

But if the plans are not already made but it is known that the Mint will at some time be shifted, should they not be hastened up? Is not this precisely the kind of establishment which could well be shifted from London and put into an area which is badly needing employment? Would that not be better for the country as a whole?

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

That is arguable, but the rôle of the Royal Mint is a very special one. When the time comes to rebuild we shall very carefully consider, first of all, whether it should leave London, and secondly, if it does, where it should go.

Mr. W. Hamilton

Does the right hon. Gentleman recall that we debated yesterday plans for twenty years ahead—up to 1981—and presumably the location of the new Mint, if we get one, would be included in those plans? Surely the right hon. Gentleman should be able to give the House some idea of when a decision will be taken, and if and when the Government come to a conclusion, will they not have regard to the unemployment situation referred to by my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, East (Mr. Willis), because this is the only chance the unemployed in Scotland will have of seeing any money?

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

The location of the new Mint would, of course, only be in the plan discussed yesterday if it were decided to place it in the South-East.

Mr. Lawson

Is the Minister aware that in 1707 when the Union of the Parliaments took place a promise was made—by a Tory Government—that coins would continue to be minted in Scotland? Would he, even at this rather late hour, take steps to redeem the promise of his former colleagues?

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

I think a promissory note 250 years old may perhaps be thought to have lapsed, but as the hon. Gentleman is an historian he will recall with interest the fact that coins have been minted on Tower Hill continuously for a thousand years.

Mr. Ross

Not only on Tower Hill but elsewhere. Will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that among the titles of the Master of the Mint is that of Governor of the Mint of Scotland and that this has been so since 1817 when the Edinburgh Mint was closed down and its offices transferred to London? If there has got to be a resiting of the Royal Mint, would it not be only a matter of historical accuracy, and of just continuity, and of justice to transfer the titles the other way, so that in future the Governor of the Scottish Mint is also the Master of the London Mint?

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

I am sure that my right hon. Friend will still retain that ancient office, and when the time comes to make this decision I am sure he will give the hon. Gentleman's proposition due weight.

Mr. Pentland

Will the hon. Gentleman give us an assurance that when the time comes for this question to be discussed at Cabinet level—the question of the new site for the Royal Mint—political considerations will be put on one side?

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

It is undoubtedly a fact that this will be considered, when the time comes, on the merits of the matter, and I understand from this Question Time that we shall not lack advice.

Sir Knox Cunningham

Will my right hon. Friend, in his long-term plans, bear in mind that Ulster will be very glad to help him in this matter?

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

Ulster is never forgotten, and if we tried to forget it my hon. and learned Friend would prevent us.

Mr. Rhodes

Is the Chief Secretary not aware that a lot taxpayers are not as much interested in where the new Mint is to be as to what happened to the old one at St. Luke's that the Bank of England sold to Oddenino's Trust, who within a month made a profit of nearly £750,000 by selling it back to the L.C.C.?

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

It hardly arises on this Question.