HC Deb 01 April 1969 vol 781 cc215-6
21. Mr. Barnett

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on the further discussions he has had with the banks on the question of their compliance with his recommendations on total lending.

The Chief Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. John Diamond)

The recently published figures for March have shown welcome progress towards the 98 per cent. target. The figures were discussed at a recent meeting between the Governor of the Bank of England and the London clearing banks, which again pointed out the problems involved for them. The Governor emphasised that further progress is still required.

Mr. Barnett

Is my right hon. Friend also changing his policy in regard to gilt-edged so as to avoid any nullifying effect that there may be in any success that he may be having in this respect? If the banks do not comply with his request, does he intend to use his powers under the 1946 Act? Will he at least advise the President of the Board of Trade to get the banks to publish their accounts?

Mr. Diamond

The banks have co-operated throughout and there is no reason to doubt that they will continue to co-operate.

Mr. Scott-Hopkins

Would the right hon. Gentleman clarify the position from the point of view of the priority which is to be accorded to agriculture in general and to farmers in particular so that they may get credit for the expansion programme of his right hon. Friend in the present credit-restricted position? Is there to be priority for farmers and is it to be on a par with, for example, the export industry?

Mr. Diamond

The position in regard to priority for farmers is unchanged.

Mr. Cant

Reverting to the main Question, since the banks' difficulties arose largely out of differential interest rates in the banking and parallel money markets, will my right hon. Friend accept, especially as his borrowing requirement for the next year will be negative, the need for him to operate more boldly in the gilt-edged market through the operation of the market?

Mr. Diamond

I have taken note of what my hon. Friend said.

Mr. Higgins

What would the 98 per cent. figure be if it were adjusted to allow for the change in the value of money between the base period and now?

Mr. Diamond

I would require notice of that question.