HC Deb 05 May 1964 vol 694 cc1092-3
8. Mr. Ridley

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will give an estimate of the cost of renationalising the steel industry at current share prices.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

The Answer must depend on the degree of confiscation contemplated in any such enterprise. On the assumption that the companies concerned were taken over on the same basis as was used in the nationalisation measures enacted in the 1945–50 Parliament, that is to say, Stock Exchange values as at an arbitrarily selected date or dates, it is material that the market value of the securities of steel companies formerly nationalised and now in private ownership and for which market quotations are available was about £490 million on 22nd April, 1964. These figures include £18 million of securities still held by the Iron & Steel Holding and Realisation Agency. In addition, at the latest available date these compaines had outstanding bank overdrafts and loans totalling approximately £143 million.

Mr. Ridley

In thanking my right hon. Friend for that reply, may I ask whether, if ever a Government nationalised and paid full compensation, he would not agree that it would be a colossal waste of the nation's capital and that the money spent in this way would be equivalent to five years of the school building programme?

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

That is certainly one of the objections to that course, but, as my hon. Friend will certainly agree, there are many other objections.

Mr. Houghton

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that his reply is simply a piece of political propaganda? Will he inform his hon. Friend something about the processes of nationalisation so that he will not ask such unsophisticated questions in future?

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

I gave the facts in reply to a Question on the Order Paper. If, as is often the case, the facts of the matter amount to political propaganda for the Government, that is not my fault.