HC Deb 11 July 1968 vol 768 cc713-4
10. Mr. J. H. Osborn

asked the Secretary of State for Economic Affairs what are the industrial projects for which the Industrial Reorganisation Corporation has made payments, and for which it has made commitments since the publication of the last annual report of the Corporation.

17. Mr. Ridley

asked the Secretary of State for Economic Affairs if he will state the total outstanding amount advanced to the Industrial Reorganisation Commission at present.

Mr. Frederick Lee

To date, the Government have advanced £29.46 million to the I.R.C. Of this sum, £11.925 million has been spent by the Corporation since 31st March, 1968, the end of the period covered by its first Report and Accounts, on reorganisation and development projects in the pressure vessel, scientific instruments and paper industries. The Corporation is additionally committed to paying £27.35 million in respect of agreements made during its first accounting period and a further £1.525 million in respect of commitments entered into since 31st March, 1968.

Mr. Osborn

Is it not a fact, therefore, that purchaser and commitments amount to a total of nearly £60 million? What pressures are being put on the Industrial Reorganisation Corporation to sell some of its commitments in the open market in order to make good use of the funds at its disposal?

Mr. Lee

The hon. Gentleman knows the terms of the Act. The I.R.C. will work on its own judgment, and I have the greatest confidence in its ability to time the market rightly.

Mr. Ridley

As this money comes directly out of taxation, will the right hon. Gentleman give an assurance that the I.R.C. will be made to sell its existing holdings in order to undertake more, and that its total limits will not be increased?

Mr. Lee

No, I will not give that undertaking. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why not?"] Because, as I have said, it is entirely for the judgment of the I.R.C. It has to borrow at Government rates, and it is not likely to hold on to investments beyond the period when it thinks it right and appropriate to sell them.