HC Deb 26 November 1968 vol 774 cc274-5
7. Mr. Biffen

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is the estimated share of personal savings represented by National Savings during the current year; and how this compares with the share for the corresponding period during the previous year.

41. Sir G. Nabarro

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is the aggregation of National Savings in the 10 months to the end of October, 1968; how this compares with the 10 months ended 31st October, 1967; what proportion of all personal savings is now represented by National Savings; and what steps he is taking to increase all forms of personal savings.

Mr. Harold Lever

Total National Savings increased by£74.3 million in the nine months to the end of September, 1968, the latest convenient date, compared with an increase of£131.3 million in the corresponding period of 1967. The latest estimates suggest that National Savings amounted to 6 per cent. of personal savings in the first half of 1968. In the corresponding period of 1967 they amounted to 8 per cent. of personal saving. Assessing ways of stimulating personal savings is a continuous process; and, as the Chancellor told the House on 2nd July, the possibilities of a new development in contractual savings are being re-examined. I cannot, however, anticipate the outcome of this review.

Mr. Biffen

The kernel of the hon. Gentleman's answer is that National Savings as a percentage of total personal savings declined between the two periods referred to from 8 to 6 per cent. Why does the hon. Gentleman think that the public are so reluctant to lend their money to the Government?

Mr. Lever

The ratio of National Savings to total saving, which is the important figure, varies from year to year. In 1967, it varied because of the changes made in the Budget which allowed great increases in Savings Certificates sales and we have not yet had time to see corresponding increases in 1968.

Sir G. Nabarro

Does the hon. Gentleman realise that what the general public are apprehensive of is the present highly inflationary position resulting from the Chancellor's package last Friday? Will he assure the House, on behalf of the Chancellor, that we shall not have to wait till the Budget of April, 1969, for him to match his words by deeds and take the important anti-inflationary action of stimulating personal savings?

Mr. Lever

In so far as the hon. Gentleman relates the decline in National Savings to my right hon. Friend's statement last Friday, I would suppose that there was considerable lack of Budget security.

Mr. Macdonald

If savings, both national and private, are desirable, as they are, and should be encouraged, can my hon. Friend tell me at what point a man changes from being an honest small saver into being a bloated capitalist tycoon?

Mr. Lever

I think that that depends upon the subjective, aesthetic and political apparatus of the spectator.

Sir C. Osborne

As there is about£8,000 million in the National Savings Movement which is repayable on demand, how can the Chancellor's wage freeze curtail spending in the shops when all this flood of money could be brought in instantly as purchasing power?

Mr. Lever

That is a factor which all Chancellors have to take into consideration, but the sacred obligation to make repayments of National Savings must remain unimpaired.

Sir G. Nabarro

Having regard to the unsatisfactory reply to Question No. 41, I beg to give notice that I shall raise the matter on the Adjournment.