HC Deb 23 April 1968 vol 763 cc25-6
41. Sir C. Osborne

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is the total of United Kingdom foreign debts; and what interest they carry.

The Financial Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Harold Lever)

As to the total of United Kingdom foreign debts I would refer the hon. Member to the Answer given by me on 29th March, 1968, to a Question by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Taunton (Mr. du Cann). As to the interest they carry, I would refer the hon. Member to the Answer which my right hon. Friend the former Chancellor of the Exchequer gave to a Question by the hon. Member for Norfolk, South (Mr. J. E. B. Hill) on 27th November, 1967.—[Vol. 761, c. 359–60; Vol. 755, c. 22–4.]

Sir C. Osborne

Would it not have been much simpler and shorter for the Financial Secretary to give the figures instead of the references? Have these overseas debts been increased substantially since the Labour Government came to power? If so, by how much?

Mr. Lever

These debts have increased in various ways—[Interruption.]—including the meeting of a£800 million deficit—[Interruption.]—I am seeking to score a statistical rather than a party point, but the fact is that£800 million of foreign currency had to be found. If the hon. Gentleman looks at the Answers to which I have referred, he will see that it is far from simple to give such compendious and detailed information in reply to an oral Question.