HC Deb 05 May 1969 vol 783 cc57-97

Section 5 of the Post Office Savings Bank Act 1954 (Payment of interest on Deposits) shall be amended by substituting the words 'Bank rate' for the words 'two pounds ten shillings per cent. perannum.'.—[Sir H. d'Avigdor-Goldsmid.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

Sir Henry d'Avigdor-Goldsmid (Walsall, South)

I beg to move, That the Clause be read a Second time.

I must begin by apologising for my absence from the debates on Wednesday. I was absent in the pursuit of duty, in the company of my right hon. Friend the Member for Enfield, West (Mr. Iain Macleod), investigating in the field the operation of the Betting Levy, with a view to our debates on the Finance Bill.

But I have had the advantage of reading the debates, and I was particularly interested in the debate on new Clause 11, moved by my hon. Friend the Member for Cirencenster and Tewkesbury (Mr. Ridley), who is not here at present. I congratulate my hon. Friend on the ingenuity he has brought to these matters and particularly on the point he raises in this Clause, which I feel the Postmaster-General will probably welcome. It contains a provision that should have been made by the Government. We find ourselves at this fifty-ninth minute of the eleventh hour in a situation in which the Government should show signs of grace to the Opposition—not merely the opposition behind the right hon. Gentleman, and see that there is real validity in the new Clause.

It is a rather dramatic thought that in legislation as recent as 1954, no more than 15 years ago, we should have had a rate of interest which is almost unintelligible today. It is something that was no doubt worked out on clay tablets in ancient China, but which has no reference to anything that goes on in the world as we know it today. It shows the innate conservatism of the Post Office that it has been able to maintain the rate of 2½ per cent. for savings for so long.

In his speech my hon. Friend spoke of the annual withdrawals of money from the Post Office Savings Bank. The figures are shown in c. 1579 of Vol. 782 of the OFFICIAL REPORT of 30th April, and I not want to go over them again. But the average since the present Government have been in office is more than £100 million a year. I have no doubt that the speed of this withdrawal has continued.

Therefore, there would seem to me to be a very real interest in contractual savings. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has recognised this, because in connection with contractual savings he is offering rates of interest which my right hon. Friend for Stafford and Stone (Mr. Hugh Fraser) has described as South American, possibly Brazilian—

Notice taken 40 Members were not present;

House counted, and, 40 Members being present

Sir H. d'Avigdor-Goldsmid

It is gratifying to have an audience, if only for such a short interval.

Mr. R. F. H. Dobson (Bristol, North-East)

On a point of order. Is it in order for the hon. Member for Yeovil (Mr. Peyton), who caused the Count to be called, immediately to absent himself from the Chamber before the Count is concluded?

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Harry Gourlay)

There is no obligation on any hon. Member to remain in the Chamber.

Sir H. d'Avigdor-Goldsmid

Thank you, Mr. Deputy Speaker—that allows the rest of my audience to withdraw.

In his Budget the Chancellor, recognising the Treasury's paramount need for savings, has produced, for contractual savings, a scheme which, although we may wish to modify in detail, we welcome in principle. It applies positively South American rates of interest to attract fresh savings. How is it that the Post Office Savings Bank should have remained at this Chinese figure of 2½ per cent? I think that I have the answer.

The Post Office Savings Bank Act, 1954 came into effect in a year when the Bank Rate varied between 4 per cent. and 5 per cent. This was at a time when the party opposite had been hypnotised by the late Lord Dalton into believing that any rate of interest paid by any Government security was a present, with the result that stock called after the late Lord Dalton are worth barely 50 per cent. of their original price.

It is in keeping with the philosophy of Daltonism that the Post Office should offer 2½ per cent. True this was under a Conservative Administration, but it was seen to be a cheap way of raising money and was accepted. Times have changed. In the debate on the Bill last week the Postmaster-General said: On the next new Clause I shall want to make some observations on the current income of the Post Office Savings Bank which exceeds the management expenses and the cost of paying interest to depositors. The right hon. Gentleman went on to say: … savers in the Post Office Savings Bank do not regard it as a means of maximising the return on their investment.…. They invest in the Post Office Savings Bank because it is a convenient way of saving, and it must be remembered that the cost of operating this small savings business is far greater than operating other types of investment".—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 30th April, 1969; Vol. 782, c. 1587.] I take the point. At the same time, the right hon. Gentleman has already admitted that he makes a profit on it. Presumably, it is not as expensive as all that. The interesting thing is that, on this principle, he ought to be making a charge to depositors in the Post Office Savings Bank, instead of paying them this derisory rate of interest, because he says that he is supplying them with a convenience which they want. Therefore, they should pay him a charge for the bookkeeping.

In present conditions, with inflation of about 5 per cent. or 6 per cent. there is an erosion of savings of about 5 per cent. per annum. In paying interest at 2½ per cent. he is charging his depositors 2½ per cent. per annum for keeping their money. This fact is clearly widely known, as there is a movement out of the Post Office Savings Bank.

4.45 p.m.

There is, however, an interest in keeping money in the Bank because this expensive machinery is set up. Why waste it? The object of this new Clause is to suggest that money can be attracted if the correct rate is paid for it. My hon. Friend the Member for Belfast, North (Mr. Stratton Mills) made a very good point when he said that the assets held by the Post Office Savings Bank do not cover the nominal amount of deposits. I am not suggesting that any unlucky depositor goes in danger of forfeiting any more money than the Government's mismanagement of our finances is already costing him. It is the taxpayer who does this. The Post Office is running its own business, making money out of the deposits and the cost is carried by the taxpayer who gives the guarantee.

No one will suffer, but this is a false addition to Post Office earnings. If it paid a realistic rate of interest its accounts would, by and large, balance. It should pay enough to depositors to enable it to pay the expenses involved in running accounts. The Postmaster-General has admitted that there is a profit on the service, but that profit is being made on a service which has run down. More and more people are removing their money from the Post Office Savings Bank because its rate of interest is unrealistic. No one could pretend that this is a satisfactory, sensible or even a particularly honest way of running a business, when depositors are being charged 2½ per cent. per annum by the Post Office for looking after their money.

The Postmaster-General has been given a good loophole by this new Clause, and I hope that he will take advantage of it and consider adjusting the rate of interest paid so that the service becomes self-supporting. It has been suggested that the Post Office should put its funds into equity shares. I would not agree with this, because it involves too many questions of principle, too many problems, and there are more than enough Government agencies already engaged in equity shares. Incidentally, the right hon. Gentleman has the opportunity of purchasing equity shares in companies over which he is deemed to have control. We do not want to put the Post Office Savings Bank into equity shares and I am glad that that suggestion was rejected.

This is quite different. There is a national interest in attracting savings to the Post Office. The machinery is there, but it is running down. If the Postmaster-General looked at this seriously, he would find that the advantage of at least keeping the money he has, if not attracting new money, would depend on his paying a realistic rate of interest. He certainly is not doing that now.

In reply to the debate on 29th April, the Postmaster-General referred to my hon. Friend the Member for Cirencester and Tewkesbury (Mr. Ridley) as a Powellite. I do not think that the Devil has a monopoly of the best tunes, and I congratulate my hon. Friend on what he said on that occasion. There are many who share his views and who admire his speeches without necessarily being tagged by that label. It is true that the best speeches come from the mountain, but we do not judge everybody by the quality of their speeches. The mountain is absent. The mountain has given birth to a mouse.

Some of us have lived with the Bill for many months. I trust that the Postmaster-General, who has replied to an infinite number of debates, will realise that we are on to a very real point, one which we as a party will, I hope, vote for, since this is something which the party would want to do. Anyone who regards the Post Office as a national organisation wants to see its Savings Bank actively, efficiently and honestly operated. For the Postmaster-General to boast that it is making money at a cost to the Treasury of reducing its assets does not make sense.

If the Postmaster-General will tell us that he is willing to introduce a sensible rate of interest, much of the opposition we have to the current rate of 2½ per cent. will disappear. Unless he does that, we must put on record our abhorrence of the financial methods which take advantage of the ignorance of the poor. I do not think that the poor are so ignorant now; they are not ignorant at all; they have a pretty good idea of what is going on, and it will not be long before they will be able to prove it at the hustings. Until that moment I hope that the Postmaster-General will earn a little extra time by agreeing to the Clause.

Mr. Stonehouse

It will be within the recollection of the House that last Wednesday evening in replying to the debate on new Clause 11, moved by the hon. Member for Cirencester and Tewkesbury (Mr. Ridley), I said that the Bill, the principal purpose of which was to transfer the operations of the Post Office from the Postmaster-General to a new Post Office Corporation, and the Post Office Savings Bank to a new National Savings Bank, was not the proper vehicle for ventilating the subject of new Clause 11, and this applies also to new Clause 12.

However, I have listened with interest and respect to the observations of the hon. Member for Walsall, South (Sir H. d'Avigdor-Goldsmid), who has a great deal of experience in financial questions and who moved the new Clause in an agreeable way. In speaking of the rate of interest being almost unintelligible and "Chinese", terms which I honestly do not fully follow, he should apply these observations not only to the Post Office Savings Bank but to the joint stock banks. They do not pay interest to depositors on current account.

As the House is well aware, the Post Office Savings Bank is providing current account facilities, and it would not, therefore, be appropriate to pay the higher rate of interest suggested in the new Clause. In addition to providing current account facilities, the Post Office Savings Bank pays a rate of interest of 2½ per cent. for each complete calendar month that the account is held with the bank, and this is a fair rate of return, bearing in mind the facilities provided.

I said in the debate on new Clause 11 that I would give figures of the income and expenditure of the Savings Bank; they are as follows. The current income from the Savings Bank fund is about £72 million a year, of which £18 million is devoted to defraying expenses of management, and about £41 million to crediting interest to depositors. There is a surplus of a little over £10 million. If we were to follow the suggestion made in the new Clause, the administrative consequences would be very considerable. There would be extra cost and complication of accounting reflecting changes in Bank rate. In 1967 alone, there were six changes in Bank Rate; it varied between 5½ per cent. and 8 per cent.. If we were to take 6 per cent. as the basis of the requirement to pay interest at Bank Rate, it would produce a deficit of over £44 million on the Post Office Savings Bank fund.

I would draw attention to the other opportunities for depositors to invest their money, if they choose to go for a higher rate of interest rather than for the convenience of what is virtually a current account. There will be the new contractual savings scheme which my right hon. Friend the Chancellor announced recently. There are, in addition, other ways in which depositors can obtain a higher rate of interest.

Mr. Keith Speed (Meriden)

Does the deficit of £44 million assume the same amount of money going in and being withdrawn from the Post Office Savings Bank, in other words, a failure of administration? If the rate of interest were much higher, people would tend to leave their money in for longer periods and not so frequently pay in £2 and withdraw £2.

Mr. Stonehouse

I am sure that would be so, but it would change the character of the Savings Bank. The Savings Bank provides current account facilities, and depositors expect those facilities to continue. If depositors want a higher rate of interest there are many other ways of obtaining it. The contractual savings scheme is one way. The Savings Bank provides a higher interest account, which is currently 6½ per cent., subject to a person having £50 in the ordinary account and to accepting a restricted range of withdrawal facilities. A depositor with an average holding in an ordinary account and an average holding in an investment account will have a total holding of £475 and an effective return of about 5⅞ per cent.

So I am not persuaded by the arguments put forward by the hon. Member for Walsall, South. If depositors want a higher rate of interest there are other means by which they can obtain it rather than on the simple Post Office Savings Bank facilities, which I believe should remain as they are.

Mr. Stratton Mills

Will the right hon. Gentleman explain the figure of 5⅞ per cent.? Is not he aware that for the standard rate taxpayer the interest on the ordinary account works out at an effective rate of 4½ per cent.?

Mr. Stonehouse

Yes, that is on the ordinary Savings Bank investment. The first £15 of Savings Bank interest on holdings up to £600 is Income Tax free. This gives a return of just over 4 per cent. where tax is payable at the standard rate. The House may like to know that less than 4 per cent. of the bank's depositors hold balances in excess of £600 so that a great many are receiving the value of these Income Tax allowances.

I was referring to the average holding in an investment account of £475 which gives this higher rate of return of 6½ per cent. and which produces an effective average return of 5⅞ per cent. Therefore, the basic point which the hon. Member for Walsall, South was seeking to deploy, that ordinary people want to invest their money at a higher rate of interest than 2½ per cent., is fully met in existing circumstances.

I must advise the House to reject the new Clause if it is pressed to a Division.

5.0 p.m.

Mr. John Peyton (Yeovil)

I am sure that the House will wish that the mission of my hon. Friend the Member for Walsall, South (Sir H. d'Avigdor-Goldsmid) to investigate the betting tax was widely and broadly successful. All those who listened to his speech with interest will very much regret that he was not here when we last discussed this Bill, because we were deprived of listening to speeches of equal cogency.

I do not know that the adjective "Chinese", when applied to this rate of interest, is the correct one. If "Chinese" equals "miserable" or "wretched", then undoubtedly it is. I found myself in broad agreement with my hon. Friend when he said that all we were asking for in this new Clause was to have a sensible rate of interest which married up to the times in which we live, which it needs no comment from me are indeed wretched.

I particularly wish to remind the House of the information which was given by my hon. Friend the Member for Cirencester and Tewkesbury (Mr. Ridley) on 30th April: The result has been, as it would not have been difficult to predict, that savers and depositors in the Post Office Saving Banks have seen fit to withdraw their money. In 1963–64 £11.4 million was withdrawn net. This is the difference between new money deposited and money taken out. In 1964–65 that amount went, up to £29.7 million. In 1965–66 is rose to £41.8 million, and in 1966–67 £153 million was taken out and in 1967–68 £105.6 million was withdrawn. My hon. Friend went on appropriately to comment: The poor British investor for whom these deposits are supposed to be of benefit has at least realised that he can do better with his money elsewhere and he is taking his money out. I do not blame him."—[OFFICIAL REPORT. 30th April, 1969; Vol. 782, c. 1579.] My hon. Friend deserves to be commended for the modesty and restraint of his language as well as for the value of the information which he gave to the House.

It is a most appalling commendation commentary on the present climate, for which one does not blame the Postmaster-General. He stands out among his colleagues as a man who allows truth and commonsense to come to his lips occasionally—but not all the time, because he has some prejudice which has dogged his way through the Bill. Occasionally, he realises that there is a limit to the distance he can go along with his right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and others. I imagine that he must be even more suspicious of his right hon. Friend who now decorates the Home Office.

The other comment one would like to make on the miserable climate produced by the present Administration is the very one which the right hon. Gentleman adduced during his speech as an argument for rejecting the new Clause. He reminded the House—I should not have thought that Members of Parliament needed to be reminded of this kind of thing—that in 1967 there were no fewer than six changes of Bank Rate.

My hon. Friend the Member for Walsall, South said under his breath—I do not blame him for not being able to restrain himself—" And why?". It was a question which I was almost too polite to utter aloud. Perhaps the Minister would care to offer his own explanation for that state of affairs. These changes of Bank Rate do not represent the basis of what we would regard as a Conservative Administration, but apparently they are to be taken for granted with the present Administration.

Another point made by the Minister was when he spoke about joint stock banks. It is easy for a depositor to get from the joint stock banks 2 per cent. below Bank Rate on ordinary deposit accounts and so he would be able to obtain, say, 5½ per cent. My hon. Friend the Member for Walsall, South will correct me if I am wrong, but I imagine that it would be simple to get 5½ per cent. If he strains his imagination at all and makes further inquiries, I do not doubt that he could get much better facilities than that. Local authorities today have to pay at least 8 per cent. for their money.

To come down to the small saver, whom one would wish to encourage above all else, one still finds oneself offering this ludicrous 2½ per cent. I do not know with what one could compare this gloomy little pittance. I find I am totally without adjectives. But if the depositor, who I am quite certain has a good and lively sense of smell as to what is going on, realises that his savings are being eroded at a rate of 5 or 6 per cent. per annum and, at the same time, is getting only a measly pittance of 2½ per cent., he is apt not merely to say "I am going elsewhere", but to say "The whole purpose of the savings movement no longer commands my attention or respect. I am certainly going elsewhere."

Goodness knows, we have had over and again examples of Ministers who have had dizzy times at the controls. They have had a mad jump for the brake, have pressed it as hard as they can, only to find later that it had acted as though it were an accelerator. So often it seems that these controls have been used and abused and that Ministers are no longer in any kind of control of the economy. Here, as has already been said, we have in the Post Office savings movement a particularly aching void, with people withdrawing their support beyond what ought to be a valuable plank in the whole savings structure.

At a later stage in our debate we shall be discussing the appointment of the Director of Savings who, by the way, will be a Treasury official. It would be out of order for me to go on at length about the Director of Savings, but it would be interesting to know whether any of the depositors have been acquainted with this change of person to whom they are lending their money and whether at the moment they would be happy to lend it to a Treasury official. I wonder what would happen in ordinary private business if somebody suddenly said, "I am no longer to be responsible for repaying the money which you were good enough to lend me. Somebody else will."

The courts and all sorts of other people, quite properly, would wish to intervene about such a transaction. It seems to me that this one has elements at least of extreme high-handedness. However, I will not dwell on that point for the moment.

The only reason why I mentioned the Director of Savings was to say what a nice makeweight it would be against the general gloom of the background of his appointment if he were, for a start, enabled to say, "I am the first person in charge of the Post Office Savings Bank who will be able to pay a realistic and more or less attractive rate of interest."

I feel some sympathy for the right hon. Gentleman. If he were to put the point enshrined in the new Clause to the Treasury, obviously he would get a dusty and filthy answer.

Sir H. d'Avigdor-Goldsmid

I hesitate to intervene, but I do not think that the Treasury would turn down the right hon. Gentleman. I think that the opposite would be the case. At present, the Post Office is making profits for itself and piling up liabilities for the Treasury. That is what is unwelcome to the Treasury.

Mr. Peyton

I am interested to hear my right hon. Friend say that. However, I cannot help thinking that the Treasury would revolt against such a commonsense proposal. For some reason or other, if only because it had not thought of it for itself, it would be anxious to reject it. The right hon. Gentleman would get short shrift for his pains.

This is not a long point. The whole House is deeply indebted to my hon. Friend the Member for Walsall, South, for having made this suggestion. I notice that the Postmaster-General has left the Chamber, but I hope that we shall hear from him again. He can always ask for the leave of the House to speak again, and I hope that he will. In default of that, I am sure that we would be delighted to hear from the Assistant Postmaster-General, who, as I have said before, has always enjoyed the esteem of all hon. Members on this side of the House. We are rather sorry about his reticence on the Bill, though we have sympathy with him, because plainly he is a man of judgment who does not wish to have any more than a very discreet minimum of association with so ill-judged a Measure.

However, this new Clause affords the hon. Gentleman an opportunity, if not quite to break his duck, at least to hit a boundary over the top of the pavilion by saying something which is quite certainly not in his brief—[Interruption.] I see that the Postmaster-General has returned. I was referring to the Assistant Postmaster-General and saying that I hope that he will go at least half way to accepting the point contained in the new Clause and say that the rate of interest will be double.

I was saying, in the absence of the right hon. Gentleman, that the Assistant Postmaster-General may have a chance to make history by doing what Assistant Postmasters-General and Parliamentary Secretaries do not have much chance to do, and that is to think for himself and act accordingly.

5 15 p.m.

Lieut.-Colonel Sir Walter Bromley-Davenport (Knutsford)

Unfortunately, I was not present to hear the full speech of my hon. Friend—

Sir Arthur Vere Harvey (Macclesfield)

Why not?

Sir W. Bromley-Davenport

Because I was busy with my constituents. Through you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I reproach my hon. Friend the Member for Macclesfield (Sir A. V. Harvey).

I was not able to hear in full the wise speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Walsall, South (Sir H. d'Avigdor-Goldsmid), but I was fortunate enough to listen with my usual joy to the excellent speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Yeovil (Mr. Peyton). He hit the Government benches so hard that the Postmaster-General had to leave the Chamber, no doubt to restore himself, as usual, with a glass of milk and a prune, before coming back, prepared to take more.

I cannot pretend that I can hit the Government benches as hard as my hon. Friend did in his speech. However, when the right hon. Gentleman got up just now to make that speech full of, I thought, hot air, I was reminded of the old American saying that figures can be made to lie, and any liar can figure. I do not mean to refer the last part of that to the right hon. Gentleman. I know that he can speak only the truth and the whole truth from his heart. The trouble is that he has behind him the Civil Service, whose members can justify anything. They can justify, for instance, that two and two make five.

Let us consider the plain simple facts that we are discussing. If I am wrong, I hope I shall be corrected. I understand that the Post Office is to put on the market £100 worth of stock which will pay 2½ per cent. My hon. Friend the Member for Walsall, South, said that money in this country is depreciating at the rate of at least 5 per cent. per annum. Unless my mathematics are wrong, as they may be, that means that, at the end, the unfortunate investor will lose 2½ per cent. of his money each year.

I do not wish to refer to the dead in any disrespectful way, particularly as I am proud to say that the person concerned was a personal friend. I can remember the late Lord Dalton going on the wireless and, with a voice vibrant with emotion, trying to persuade the public—which he did successfully and, in my constituency, against my sound advice—to invest money in what have since become known as "Dirty Daltons".

I can remember that deep voice full of charm and patriotism saying, "Help your country in its hour of need. I advise you all to buy this stock. It is sure, sound stock, and you will get your money back." Get your money back, my left foot! Where does that 100 per cent. stock stand today?

An Hon. Member

Where does it stand?

Sir W. Bromley-Davenport

I have not been on the market this morning, but I think it is down to something like 30. Investors have lost 70 per cent. of their capital, and they will never get it back.

As we know, there is a sucker born every minute. When the Post Office issues this stock it ought to say, "Invest your money in Post Office stock. Lose 2½ per cent. on your investment each year and remember that, in the autumn, sterling will probably be devalued to 2 dollars to the £." That is all over the City, as we know.

It is insulting that stock like this should be offered to the public. When people go to a Post Office, they find a charming lady behind the counter with these certificates. She stamps them in every known position, and out they go across the counter. It is a shame, and almost fraudulent, that stock like this should be thrown on the market and for the poor suckers to be advised to invest their money in it.

Mr. James Dempsey (Coatbridge and Airdrie)

I did not intend to speak in the debate, but after listening to the rumblings that have come from the other side it is only fair that we should try to get a proper appreciation of what this is all about. I have never before listened to as much nonsense as I have heard today.

I asked a Question, when the Conservatives were in power, about the extent to which the pound had depreciated since 1919. The Answer was that it had depreciated to 4s. 11d. That was its new value taking it pound for pound in 1919. During 45 years from 1919 Conservative Governments had been in power for 36 years—four times longer than other Governments—yet the pound had eroded to that substantial effect. At that time, to talk of investing in stock after such depreciation was unthinkable. We have heard an argument that people would never think of investing at 2½, per cent.

Mr. Archie Manuel (Central Ayrshire)

Only the hon. and gallant Member for Knutsford (Sir W. Bromley-Davenport).

Mr. Dempsey

I have been waiting to hear someone tell the House how long the 2½ per cent. has been in operation. Listening to the argument from the other side, people would think that it has operated only since 1964. We know that is not true. The 2½ per cent. standard interest rate has been in vogue for a very long time. I find it incongruous to hear the Opposition, on the one hand, complaining about the increasing of interest rates and, on the other hand, saying that they want them increased. They have been arguing against increased interest rates for a long time. We are told that the Bank Rate has gone up and up. It is one thing to say that they have been able to keep pace and another to condemn the Government for what they have done.

Mr. Cyril Bence (Dunbartonshire, East)

Does my hon. Friend realise that last week the Opposition moved a Motion of censure against the Government on the high Bank Rate and now they have a new Clause asking that the Post Office should put up its rate of interest to the same as the Bank Rate?

Mr. Dempsey

I am grateful for that intervention. It indicates that what we are listening to this afternoon is an exercise in inconsistency by hon. Gentlemen opposite. Whenever it suits their political purpose they demand high Bank Rate and high interest rates. However, when it does not suit their political purpose they demand something otherwise. This is not the proper way to run a business or even to run the finances of the country. It is doing the investment elements of this country considerable damage to indulge in exercises in political inconsistency, such as we have been treated to today.

It is a well known fact—

An Hon. Member

What about the increase in contributions towards spectacles?

Mr. Dempsey

Mr. Deputy Speaker would no doubt rule me out of order if I followed up that point. We have heard an interjection about the increase in contributions towards spectacles, but we have been asked to increase interest rates. Hon. Gentlemen opposite complain of one increase but support another when it happens to suit the philosophy of the Conservative Party.

When we consider the Savings Bank account we know that these moneys are used for general economic activities in this country. If we increase the Savings Bank interest rate from 2½ per cent. to the present Bank Rate, we will increase the cost of providing certain services to the public. We will increase capital expenditure and public expenditure, and the Opposition have been decrying this for the past six months. Whenever we come along, conscious of the need to control public expenditure and to protect people's money by controlling interest rates, we find the Opposition introduce Clauses to bump them up. In other words, there is no consistency or logic in their argument.

Mr. Manuel

It is crazy.

Mr. Dempsey

It is crazy finances. Many people who argue that suffer from a degree of craziness in doing so.

Sir A. V. Harvey

The Government cannot have it both ways. When we consider that farmers have to pay the Agricultural Mortgage Corporation about 10 per cent. for their money, which they have not got, how can the Government, on the other hand, offer 2½ per cent.? Surely, somewhere in between would be the right amount.

Mr. Dempsey

I think that the hon. Gentleman is skating on very thin ice when he quotes the farmers, because his right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition is anxious to axe the farmers' subsidies.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. The hon. Member must not stray too far from new Clause 12.

Mr. Dempsey

I accept that, but the hon. Gentleman started it.

Nevertheless, I am sure that it is the ambition of all Governments, not just this Government, and all financial interests, to control interest rates to the best of their ability. In some cases—especially when the Government are subject to international pressures—this is not always possible, because we are not always the master of our own house. But in this respect we are, and it reflects credit on all Governments that they have been able to maintain the Savings Bank interest rate and thus reduce costs in this country because our people know that their money is secure. One of the finest interest-bearing attractions a man can have is that his money is secure—[Interruption.] If hon. Gentlemen opposite look at HANSARD they will see how the pound has fallen year by year from 1951 to date. In reply to a Question which I put to the Chancellor, we were told that the pound fell during the Conservative Administration by nearly three times more than under this Government. [HON. MEMBERS: "NO."]

Mr. Hay


Mr. Dempsey

It is not nonsense. The hon. Gentleman is saying that the record in HANSARD is inaccurate, but I prefer to accept that record. It is as simple as that.

Captain L. P. S. Orr (Down, South)

What is the reference?

Mr. Dempsey

I will give the reference, because the Question was asked recently. I asked for a comparison on how the pound had depreciated during the 13 years when the Conservatives were in power with its depreciation since the Labour Party took office in 1964. It is on record in HANSARD and it can be seen at any time. If the hon. and gallant Member for Down, South (Captain Orr) has not time to look it up, I will find it and present it to him as one friend to another.

It is our duty to look at the tradition of savings in this country. We have a tradition for encouraging small savings especially. The interest rate has been fixed so that it does not involve extraordinary costs. If we increase the interest rate, I visualise an increase in administration and management costs which would not render it as attractive as it is now. It is most unfair for hon. Gentlemen opposite to argue at this stage for an increase in the interest rate on savings bank deposits when they could have done it during their 13 years in office.

Captain Orr

May I say to the hon. Member for Coatbridge and Airdrie (Mr. Dempsey), as one friend to another, that his plea for consistency might have carried more weight if he had been consistent. With all charity and good will, I have not listened to so much nonsense for a very long time.

The debate has produced some very surprising shocks, not the least of which was my hon. Friend the Member for Yeovil (Mr. Peyton), who has temporarily gone to higher places, saying that he had run out of adjectives. When my hon. Friend runs out of adjectives, something very strange has happened. If ever there was a master of the adjective, it is my hon. Friend. Without his adjectives he is like an egg without salt; full of good, solid, nourishing stuff, but lacking what we usually expect from him.

5.30 p.m.

The Postmaster-General argued that the Bill was not the proper vehicle for discussing the question of interest rates. That argument does not stand up. The Government have produced a massive, turgid, indigestible, badly constructed and drafted Bill transferring the present functions of the Post Office to a new Corporation. The right hon. Gentleman says that we can transfer the whole thing lock, stock and barrel, but saying at the same time that we cannot examine it while we are doing so. That is an extraordinary argument. If ever there was a time when the operation not only of the Post Office in general but of all its various activities and agencies should be examined, it is now. Control over the operations of the Post Office is returning to the House for a brief period, and then we shall give it away in the Bill to a new public corporation. For heaven's sake, let us have a look at it while we do so.

I now come to the Clause, which my hon. Friend the Member for Walsall, South (Sir H. d'Avigdor-Goldsmid) moved so well. Until the debate on new Clause 11 and my hon. Friend's speech on this new Clause, I had not appreciated to what extent the taxpayer is in jeopardy over the Post Office Savings Bank account. The hon. Member for Coat-bridge and Airdrie pleaded that we should protect the public purse. That was one of his splendid phrases. But that is precisely what my hon. Friend is trying to do. Nobody has denied that depositors are rapidly withdrawing their money from the Post Office Savings Bank. If that is true, and if it be true that the account no longer has assets to meet the sum total of demand by all the depositors, the taxpayer is in considerable jeopardy. If it is also true, as my hon. Friend the Member for Yeovil says, that the new Director of Savings will be a Treasury official, it is very surprising that a Treasury official will take on such a job unless it be his intention to raise the rate of interest. If the rate of interest remains as it is now, the underwriting by the taxpayer of the Post Office Savings Bank account becomes very hazardous.

The Postmaster-General said that it was different from others in that it was a current account operation, and he pointed out that the joint stock banks do not pay interest on current accounts. But I do not believe that the average depositor in the Post Office Savings Bank regards it as a current account operation. It is money put aside for a rainy day, which is quite a different thing. People who are putting money away for a rainy day are much more likely to go to building societies now, because many building societies are making it easy to withdraw money. One can sometimes make a withdrawal from a building society account in a day or two, almost by return of post. That is competition with the Post Office Savings Bank that makes the Postmaster-General's argument about its being a current account not very valid.

Sir Douglas Glover (Ormskirk)

Whatever one has in a current account in a bank one can draw out on demand. One cannot do that with an account in the Post Office Savings Bank. That is proof that it is not a current account.

Captain Orr

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. Conditions with regard to Post Office Savings Bank accounts are becoming very like those in building society accounts, and there is a big difference in the rate of interest. Unless something is done about the rate of interest paid by the Post Office Savings Bank, we shall see the account's erosion. There will be reduced deposits and money will flow out of the Savings Bank. Eventually the whole operation may have to be underwritten by a substantial in-flow of capital from the Treasury, and thus from the taxpayer. This is alarming.

I am not sure that tying the rate of interest to Bank Rate is the best answer, but it is better than the present situation. There may be something in the argument of the Postmaster-General that a continually changing rate, if we are to have a continually changing Bank Rate, might be administratively difficult, but before he invites us to reject the Clause, let him tell us whether he is seriously thinking about the present rate of interest.

Sir A. V. Harvey

Would it be more difficult for the Post Office to vary the rate of interest it pays than it is for the joint stock banks, which vary their interest on deposit account with Bank Rate?

Captain Orr

I do not see that it should be much more difficult, but I suppose that somebody in the Post Office has made a calculation about the matter and perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will tell us what it is. It would be very interesting to know the calculations upon which he reckons that a floating rate of interest in the Post Office Savings Bank would be more administratively expensive. I cannot really answer my hon. Friend without the kind of information with which the Postmaster-General should be able to arm me. Before I finally decide how I shall vote on the new Clause, I should like to hear from the right hon. Gentleman again.

Mr. Hay

It is also desirable that we should have a Treasury Minister here. The Postmaster-General is a Departmental Minister. Treasury policy is very much involved in the matter. How free are the right hon. Gentleman's hands?

Captain Orr

That is a point. My hon. Friend is quite right, especially now that the Postmaster-General has lost the help and advice of the Assistant Postmaster-General. Even the Whips have deserted him. That might be of some use, because the Treasury is deeply involved.

Mr. Nicholas Ridley (Circenester and Tewkesbury)

I want to put the contrary point to that expressed by my hon. Friend the Member for Henley (Mr. Hay). There are few recorded instances where the presence of a Treasury Minister has cleared up any doubt.

Captain Orr

My hon. Friend is consistent in his support of his hon. Friend the Member for Yeovil (Mr. Peyton), who takes precisely the same view. I am not quite so distrustful of the Treasury. Perhaps I should be. I should like to have a Treasury Minister on the Government Front Bench now to tell us whether or not the Treasury itself is alarmed about the state of Post Office savings. It would also be useful—it may be a little premature at this stage—to be told what advice the Treasury will give, in respect of Post Office savings, to its own colleague who will become the new Director of the Post Office Savings Account. I should like to know whether it is now satisfied with the rate of interest.

Can the Postmaster-General tell us whether anybody—the Government, the Treasury, himself or anybody else—is satisfied with the present situation? Is there any alarm at the rate at which money is being withdrawn from the Post Office Savings Account? Is the Postmaster-General really satisfied with his argument that it is a current account?

Mr. Speed

We have been discussing the Treasury; the Postmaster-General may be interested to know that the Financial Secretary to the Treasury told me, on 25th February, in a Written Answer, that if a person invested £1 on 1st January, 1968 in the Post Office Savings Bank, on 31st December, 1968, taking into account accrued interest, that £1 would be worth only 19s. 5d. in terms of purchasing power.

Captain Orr

That is an extremely interesting and important revelation. I ask the Postmaster-General whether he is aware of that fact and, if so, whether he will comment upon it.

Mr. Stonehouse

I am grateful to the hon. and gallant Gentleman for the points that he is pursuing. I would refer him to the Budget speech made by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who then spelt out the arrangements for the contractual savings scheme, which I believe to be the answer to some of the questions now being raised. My right hon. Friend recognises that there must be other methods for savers to obtain a higher rate of interest, and he is introducing such a scheme. I believe that that is the full answer to the points being raised by the hon. and gallant Gentleman.

5.45 p.m.

Captain Orr

I do not think it is a full answer. I noted that in his speech the Postmaster-General made the point that the contractual savings scheme will provide an alternative for those who are looking for higher rates of interest—which is laudable and proper. But that does not answer my question: what is to become of the Post Office Savings Fund? Let us suppose that everybody with a Post Office Savings account transfers to the contractual savings scheme, deserting the Post Office Savings Account. What happens to it? It goes bust. But it does not go bust in the ordinary sense. The depositors do not lose a proportion of their money. At the end of the day the taxpayer has to foot the bill. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will address himself to that point. Is it not valid? No doubt the right hon. Gentleman will deal with the matter in some detail.

The hon. Member for Dunbartonshire, East (Mr. Bence) was seeking to interrupt me—

Mr. Bence

No. I am seeking to follow the hon. and gallant Gentleman.

Mr. Dempsey

Is the hon. and gallant Gentleman seriously suggesting that the new contractual savings scheme will bring about the demise of the Post Office Savings Bank—the traditional method of saving? Does he seriously put that forward as a valid argument?

Captain Orr

Yes. If the present trend continues and a contractual savings scheme is set up which would institute another vehicle for savers there will be a strain upon the Post Office Savings Bank Account. Is that not so? I should have thought it was as plain as a pikestaff.

Mr. Dempsey

Not necessarily.

Captain Orr

Why not?

Mr. Dempsey

For the simple reason that many people who do not deposit in the Post Office at the moment may be attracted to another Post Office savings system because under the contractual savings scheme they will receive a better rate of interest.

Captain Orr

If the hon. Member thinks that with an interest rate of 2½ per cent.—with interest rates running at the rates they are running at now and with inflation at 5 per cent. per annum or more—there will be a rush of people to invest in the Post Office, I do not know what to say to him. He is a personal friend of mine, but friendship does not always mean admiration for a man's powers of ratiocination. I do not think that he can be serious in suggesting that there will be a rush of people to invest in the Post Office Savings Bank.

Mr. Dempsey

No—in the contractual scheme.

Captain Orr

I thought that the hon. Member was saying that there would be a rush to join the present Post Office savings scheme, despite the contractual scheme. Perhaps I misunderstood him.

Mr. Dempsey

Allow me to clear up the misunderstanding. I said that it was conceivable that those people outside the Post Office who have money to invest would be attracted to the new contractual savings scheme because it would offer a higher rate of interest.

Captain Orr

I still have great respect for the hon. Member, but I cannot possibly concede that to him. It cannot be true. What might happen is that people who have money in the Post Office at 2½ per cent. will be tempted to shift their money to the new contractual savings scheme and that further withdrawals will continue from the Post Office Savings Bank unless something is done about the rates of interest. The Post Office Savings Bank is ultimately underwritten by the taxpayer, and it is the taxpayer who will lose.

I have an open mind about the Clause, which my hon. Friend has put forward with great cogency and persuasion. I shall probably be in the Lobby with him when it comes to the vote, but I shall wait to hear the Postmaster-General before I make up my mind.

Mr. Bence

The new Clause is a piece of absolute nonsense. I am surprised that it is apparently a new idea for the hon. and gallant Member for Down, South (Captain Orr) that the taxpayer is ultimately responsible. I have always thought that a State institution with a guaranteed rate of interest must be the ultimate responsibility of the taxpayers. The Post Office Savings Bank has been a habit with the artisan class for a hundred years. When I consider the money that my wife and I put into it in 1924 and 1925, compared with the money which my hon. Friends now get from their investment then in Imperial Tobacco shares, I realise that I was a fool to put money into the Post Office Savings Bank under Sir Winston Churchill, after having listened to the Tory and Liberal propagandists. I got too little interest. But without the National Health Service, I had to put my money where it was easily available to pay doctors' bills. I lid not put it in a marketable share like Bald-wins, Ltd., which collapsed from 23s. to 1s. 3d. in 1924, I think.

Mr. Peyton

The hon. Member may have missed the point, which springs mainly from our anxiety about the rate of net withdrawals from the Post Office. As I said, whereas it was running at about £11.4 million in 1963–64, it has now risen to over £100 million.

Mr. Bence

Savings in the Post Office were an institution for the artisan class from which I spring. Since we have had full employment and better information, a young man of 23 or 24 today looks to the unit trusts and building societies. There were no unit trusts in my day and I was afraid to put my nose inside a building society, because I had not enough money. But that is changing and young men can now put by £1 were we could only put by ls.

I enjoyed, as a piece of nonsense, the intervention of the hon. Member for Macclesfield (Sir A. V. Harvey) about the joint stock banks. There one gets 6 per cent. on the trustee side, but they charge 9¼ per cent. for overdrafts—something which my right hon. Friend cannot do. If one has money on the trustee side and a current account and no overdraft and keeps £100 in hand, one still has to pay bank charges.

Sir A. V. Harvey

The hon. Member clearly has not briefed himself. How can the banks possibly compete with the building societies unless they pay a comparable rate of interest? Money does not come down from heaven, as his right hon. colleagues think. It has to earn its way in life.

Mr. Bence

The hon. Gentleman seems to think that money comes from heaven, because he supports a Clause which suggests that the Post Office should pay a rate of interest equal to what it has to pay to borrow. That is as if the joint stock banks paid me Bank Rate and charged only 1 per cent. more on overdrafts. There must be a gap between what is charged on money deposited and what is charged on money loaned. Otherwise, the banks could not earn a living, unless they create money out of nothing. They probably do, but the Post Office cannot. It has to get it from the customers. To suggest that the Post Office should pay the same rate of interest as an institution which creates its own money is nonsense. I am glad that none of the Opposition Front Bench has signed this Clause.

The taxpayers must underwrite the 2½ per cent., the hon. Gentleman complained, but by supporting the new Clause he is in favour of their underwriting a rate of 9¼ per cent—

Mr. Ridley

Has the hon. Gentleman considered the Postmaster-General's astonishing revelation that, of the £71 million interest which the Savings Bank receives from its investments, it spends £18 million on administration? Is that not a somewhat Parkinsonian figure?

Mr. Bence

I accept that there is a changing pattern of savings and that Post Office savings may not be the best form, nationally. That is worth a debate in itself. Many working men subscribe through the banks to Scotbits and other unit trusts.

Mr. Dempsey

Very interesting points are being made about the cost of administering the Post Office Savings Bank—£18 million out of about £72 million, or 25 per cent. Would my hon. Friend bear in mind that certain public undertakings are costing 60 to 63 per cent. to administer, not 25 per cent.?

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Harry Gourlay)

Order. We are not discussing public undertakings. Perhaps the hon. Member will stick to new Clause 12.

Mr. Bence

I cannot delve into that matter, then, thank God.

It is wrong for the Opposition to put down a new Clause to give the impression that this is a practical proposition. Hon. Members know that it is impractical to ask an institution like the Post Office to pay that sort of rate to depositors on money which can be withdrawn in a month, without the power to create credit or lend money. Had they put down a new Clause raising the rate to 3 or 3½ per cent., it would have been more debatable, but this one is wrong. They know as well as I that no Government in history could have run the Post Office by paying a rate of interest equal even to that of the commercial banks, and to make it equal to the Bank Rate is a piece of humbug.

Sir H. d'Avigdor-Goldsmid

The hon. Gentleman has more or less accused me of mental dishonesty. My argument—I do not know if he was even in his place to hear it—was that the Post Office should pay a realistic rate of interest which would attract deposits, instead of paying a low rate of interest, as at present, which discourages deposits and encourages withdrawals.

Mr. Bence

That may be so, but the new Clause does not say that. If the hon. Gentleman and his hon. Friends had made that clear in the new Clause they might have had some support from my hon. Friends.

6.0 p.m.

Mr. Ridley

The Government have not answered the points of substance raised by the new Clause. There is no justification, 50 years after its inception, for continuing with a savings media which continues to decline in value and which pays an interest rate of perhaps one-third the going rate.

The Postmaster-General has made two short speeches on this subject. In the first he tried to defend himself by saying that the new Clause was virtually out of order. That cannot be so, it having been selected. In any event, that is no argument against the proposal. He then thought that I was a Powellite. I was not sure whether he meant that as an insult or a compliment. In either case, it is no argument against the new Clause.

The right hon. Gentleman then made the sinister implication that the loss of capital value of the Fund, which was to be invested in long-term gilts, could be made up from the profit on income because the rate of interest which the Post Office was earning was greater than that which it was paying. The right hon. Gentleman said: On the next new Clause I shall want to make some observations on the current income of the Post Office Savings Bank, which exceeds the management expenses and the cost of paying interest to depositors. There is a surplus on that."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 1st May, 1969; Vol. 782; c. 1587.] That is no argument either, because the surplus is, we discover, only about £10 million a year, which will not go anywhere towards covering the enormous loss in capital value which faces the Fund, should it be fully drawn out.

I dismiss the right hon. Gentleman's fourth argument, which was that I was advocating by some means a form of nationalisation. My hon. Friend the Member for Henley (Mr. Hay) dealt with that effectively. The Minister has not adduced arguments of substance to rebut the general proposition—leaving aside the drafting points which the hon. Member for Dunbartonshire, East (Mr. Bence) tried to raise—that the Post Office is offering a rotten investment and that people should not be encouraged to invest in it.

If £1,000 had been invested in the Post Office Savings Bank in 1919 and neither it nor the interest had been touched, the depositor would now have a nest egg, including the tax rebate to which he might be entitled, of about £2,500. If £1,000 had been invested in a stock which had kept its real value, due to growth, against the falling value of the currency, and if it gained interest at 5 per cent. then, together with the tax that would have to be paid, it would be worth about £7,000. This is the magnitude of the loss about which we are speaking.

It must be obvious that a short-term stock like this will carry a smaller rate of interest than an investment left for a specific period of years or one which carries certain difficulties of negotiation. It is obvious, therefore, that this type of investment should be expressed in terms of 1 per cent. or so under the long-term rate. The Postmaster-General, however, has failed to realise that since the original Post Office Savings Bank rate of 2½ per cent. was fixed, there has been a massive increase in Bank Rate and interest rates generally and that this 2½ per cent. rate has been left way behind. While the Post Office rate should be 1 per cent. or so below the rate for borrowing, it has stayed at 2½ per cent. and has never moved.

The right hon. Gentleman said that the cost of administration was so high that the Post Office could not pay more than 2½ per cent. The cost of administration is not the cost of paying out the interest rate. The cost of administration plus the cost of borrowing should be the sum which leads to the interest rate. The cost of borrowing has gone up and, therefore, the cost of administration has presumably not changed. There must, therefore, be more money available to pay out to keep this interest rate competitive with interest rates in other stocks.

Why does it cost £18 million a year to administer this Fund? Not only is the Fund administered in such a way that its capital value has declined, but it is paying only 2½ per cent. interest, which is not variable in relation to nation-wide interest rate variation. We are also told that about one quarter of the total income of the Fund is used for administrative purposes.

I must leave the Postmaster-General with a suspicion in his mind that something is rotten in the State of Denmark if this is really the situation of the Post Office Savings Bank. That being so, he should not give the impression that all is well, with him trying to lull the savers into continuing to invest their money in the Post Office. It is clear that this is a bad bargain and an area of Government administration which has been left undisturbed for too long.

This state of affairs needs examining. We have stumbled on this aspect by a sidewind and it is the duty of the Government to investigate the matter. One on the functions of Parliament is to probe issues such as this. We have stumbled on an anthill which contains more ants than we expected to find. I trust that there will be a flicker of interest on the part of the Government in view of the apparent inconsistencies, wrong administration and mistakes which have been shown to exist.

Mr. Stratton Mills

I apologise to the House—many of my hon. Friends have sat patiently through the discussion waiting to speak—for rising at this stage, but I understand that the Government intend shortly to curtail the debate.

Hon. Members


Mr. Arthur Lewis (West Ham, North)

How does the hon. Gentleman know that?

Sir A. V. Harvey

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. My hon. Friend is speaking from the Opposition Front Bench because he anticipates that the Government intend to curtail the debate. Are you aware, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that several of my hon. Friends and I have been hoping to catch your eye because we have important points to make? Should we be gagged in this fashion? May we have your protection to ensure that we are able to speak?

Mr. Deputy Speaker

The Chair will consider the matter if and when the time comes.

Mr. Mills

I regret having to rise at this time—

Mr. Lewis

On a point of order. Mr. Deputy Speaker. Is it not out of order for an hon. Member, even when speaking from the Front Bench, to assume that the Chair can expect the debate to be curtailed at some future time? The hon. Gentleman clearly said that the Government had decided to curtail the debate. Is it not the Chair which decides whether or not a debate should be curtailed, rather than the Government?

Mr. Deputy Speaker

It is out of order to suggest when the chair will accept the Closure.

Sir A. V. Harvey

I am sorry to have to follow up this matter, Mr. Deputy Speaker, but it is rather serious. If there has been a private deal between the two Front Benches, may we be informed? It is quite wrong that at this stage—it is now after 6 o'clock—we should have indications that the debate is to be gagged or the Closure moved. We have before us an important matter respecting interest rates to our constituents, and I resent the suggestion.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Discussions through the usual channels are not matters for the Chair.

Mr. Alison

Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I should like to raise a matter which is directly within your competence. You will have observed that a large number of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen on both sides have been sitting here since the end of Question Time, seeking to take part in the debate. It would be quite intolerable were the Whip to seek to put a shot across your bows. I am not seeking to prejudice your views in any way in this matter.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

As with similar points of order, the Chair will make its decision when occasion arises.

Mr. Ridley

The House is now in some difficulty, because it has been intimated by my hon. Friend the Member for Belfast, North (Mr. Stratton Mills) that he has a suspicion that he may be the last speaker in this debate. It would make it very much easier for those of my hon. Friends who have not yet been called if you were able to say if my hon. Friend is wrong in his suspicion and that there is no intention of bringing the debate to an end or of your accepting any such Motion because of the irregularity of its being suggested in advance that there is a predetermined moment at which the debate will be closed.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

The Chair has already given a Ruling that it does not give hypothetical answers.

Captain Orr

Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. You have obviously been placed in a very great difficulty. We understand that normally you cannot rule on a hypothetical point, but the fact is that my hon. Friend the Member for Belfast, North (Mr. Stratton Mills) has now disclosed that he has had some message from Government quarters that the debate is to be curtailed. I have no interest in the matter because I have already been able to address the House—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. I am seized of the point of order raised by the hon. and gallant Gentleman; namely, a suggested curtailment of the debate. That matter does not arise at this stage at all. There is no Motion before the House, That the Question be now put. I ask the hon. and gallant Gentleman to accept the Chair's Ruling. I have made it abundantly clear that it is not possible for the Chair to rule on any hypothetical situation.

Captain Orr

I fully accept what you say, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I have already accepted the fact that you cannot possibly rule on a hypothesis. I am asking, through you, whether, in order to protect you from this sort of embarrassing position, someone on the Government Front Bench can say that there is no intention whatever of bringing the debate to an end.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

That is not a matter for the Chair.

Mr. Mills rose

Sir A. V. Harvey

I hope that my hon. Friend the Member for Belfast, North (Mr. Stratton Mills) will at least be frank with his colleagues, and say how he got the information. It is quite wrong—hon. Members have been sitting here since 3.30—to have the debate interrupted. Perhaps my hon. Friend will give way so that the Postmaster-General may clear up this matter—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. This is not a matter for discussion on new Clause 12.

6.15 p.m.

Mr. Mills

I ought to make it absolutely clear to my hon. Friend, and this is why I spoke as I did at the beginning, that I intervened not with any wish to curtail the debate but to explain that I did so because of the Government's intention to closure the debate. I also make it quite clear that there has been no arrangement at all with this side of the House, and I hope that my hon. Friends will express their disapproval in the Division Lobby if and when the Government do seek to move the Closure. I felt that I had a duty to explain my hon. Friends—and to apologise to them—why I was intervening. The Postmaster-General may wish to intervene in order to make it quite clear that he has no intention of curtailing the debate.

Hon. Members


Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. The hon. Member must obey the Ruling of the Chair. I have already ruled that this matter would be out of order on new Clause 12.

Mr. Mills

My hon. Friend the Member for Walsall, South (Sir H. d'Avigdor-Goldsmid) has caused us to look once again at whether the 2½ per cent. rate of interest offered to depositors in the ordinary department of the Post Office Savings Bank is reasonable and fair having regard to interest rates currently available on the market and in comparable investments. He made a very strong case. I emphasise that we on this side are by no means wedded to the proposal of Bank Rate as being appropriate, but we feel sufficiently strongly that an increase is overdue to wish to divide the House—

Mr. Peyton

I thank my hon. Friend for giving way. The new Clause is moved in the exceptional circumstances of very massive withdrawals from the Post Office Savings Bank against a background, of which the Postmaster-General was good enough to remind the House, of 16 changes in one year since devaluation. The Government cannot run the economy. This is why this sort of unusual proposal is put forward.

Mr. Mills

The figures quoted earlier by my hon. Friend the Member for Cirencester and Tewkesbury (Mr. Ridley) showed overwhelmingly that the small investor is taking notice of the fact that these rates are entirely out of line with the market, and is taking evading action with his money. A rate of 2½ per cent. is quite unrealistic. The Postmaster-General said that it was equivalent to about 4 per cent. to the standard rate taxpayer. He then attempted to give a composite rate of 5⅞ per cent. which, I understand, was the average rate as between the Ordinary Department and the Special Department of the Post Office Savings Bank. I urge the House to disregard that figure. It is quite misleading, and irrelevant to our discussion. We are discussing not the overall rate for the two departments, but the single rate for the Ordinary Department. To introduce other figures is to mislead the House.

My hon. Friends have referred to the drift of depositors' moneys out of the Post Office Savings Bank. The Postmaster-General attempted to argue that the Ordinary Department was comparable with the ordinary current accounts in the banks, but the two services are in no way comparable. The right hon. Gentleman put most emphasis on the convenience afforded to savers by the Ordinary Department, and argued that 2½ per cent. was a form of bonus on top of that convenience. To establish that argument, the right hon. Gentleman must have regard to rates of interest available in other forms of security where there is equal convenience.

I remind him that the interest paid by the banks on deposits is between 5 per cent. and 6 per cent. The rate for money lodged with local authorities and withdrawable at seven days' notice or less is over 8 per cent. The Post Office Savings Bank—admittedly, it is the special department, but there is very little different in the facilities it gives—offers about 6½ per cent. Building societies, where withdrawal can take place very rapidly, give an equivalent of 8½ per cent. or 9 per cent. grossed up, and, although it is not entirely the same, the Agricultural Mortgage Corporation has 9½ per cent. debentures.

I cite those examples to put to the Postmaster-General as strongly as I can the point that interest rates in the ordinary department of the Post Office are very substantially out of line with the rest of the market, and that unless he heeds this warning he will find more and more money flowing out of this means of saving.

Why is the Postmaster-General appearing so mean and niggardly over this 2½ per cent.? A slightly ungallant answer to that question would be that it is not his fault—that the Chancellor will not allow him to do otherwise. That probably is true.

I think there is another reason. I referred in an earlier debate to the Post Office Savings Bank Fund and to the £200 million, probably more now, loss in capital value of moneys invested in that fund. The right hon. Gentleman today, although he did not spell it out because that would be letting the cat out of the bag, practically admitted that. The overall yield of moneys invested not in the Post Office but by the Post Office is about 4½ per cent. It would be virtually impossible to invest funds in such a way in gilt-edged securities as to produce an overall yield of about 4½ per cent. That is a severe indictment of the management of that fund.

Successive Governments have used the Post Office Savings Bank as a kind of dustbin for the fag-end of Government securities. If they had a sum left with the underwriters, they would say to the Post Office, "Take a couple of millions off our hands." We ended with a position in which the Post Office, particularly in days of low interest rates—which are now a long time ago—took far too much stock with long-dated redemption and too much stock with no redemption dates at all. The penalty now is that investors have to pay. The Government are not able to pay the money to the ordinary depositor in this account.

It is very hard that the small saver suffers most from this mishandling. Financially unsophisticated people who put their trust in the Government and the Post Office are penalised in this way. The small investor, however, is now waking up to the truth. He is becoming much more sophisticated, particularly with the aid of daily and Sunday newspapers. He is waking up to the truth that he is getting a raw deal with 2½ per cent. and is therefore moving his money elsewhere. Unless the Government recognise this and adjust the interest to a realistic level, this process will continue. That is why, with the reservations I made at the beginning of my speech, I shall encourage my hon. and right hon. Friends to take this matter to the Division Lobby.

Dr. M. S. Miller (Glasgow, Kelvingrove)

rose in his place and claimed to move, That the Question be put:—

Question put, That the Question be now put.

The House divided: Ayes 230, Noes 168.

Division No. 188.] AYES [6.24 p.m.
Albu, Austen Grey, Charles (Durham) Morris, John (Aberavon)
Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.) Griffiths, David (Rother Valley) Moyle, Roland
Anderson, Donald Griffiths, Eddie (Brightside) Murray, Albert
Archer, Peter Griffiths, Rt. Hn. James (Llanelly) Neal, Harold
Ashley, Jack Griffiths, Will (Exchange) Newens, Stan
Ashton, Joe (Bassetlaw) Hamilton, James (Bothwell) Ogden, Eric
Atkins, Ronald (Preston, N.) Hamilton, William (Fife, W.) O'Malley, Brian
Atkinson, Norman (Tottenham) Hamling, William Oram, Albert E.
Bagier, Gordon A. T. Harrison, Walter (Wakefield) Orbach, Maurice
Barnes, Michael Hart, Rt. Hn. Judith Orme, Stanley
Barnett, Joel Haseldine, Norman Oswald, Thomas
Beaney, Alan Hattersley, Roy Owen, Dr. David (Plymouth, S'tn)
Bence, Cyril Hazell, Bert Owen, Will (Morpeth)
Benn, Rt. Hn. Anthony Wedgwood Henig, Stanley Page, Derek (King's Lynn)
Bidwell, Sydney Herbison, Rt. Hn. Margaret Paget, R. T.
Binns, John Hobden, Dennis Park, Trevor
Bishop, E. S. Horner, John Parker, John (Dagenham)
Blackburn, F. Howell, Denis (Small Heath) Pavitt, Laurence
Blenkinsop, Arthur Howie, W. Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd)
Booth, Albert Hoy, James Peart, Rt. Hn. Fred
Boston, Terence Huckfieid, Leslie Pentland, Norman
Boyden, James Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.) Perry, Ernest G. (Battersea, S.)
Bradley, Tom Hughes, Roy (Newport) Price, Christopher (Perry Barr)
Bray, Dr. Jeremy Hunter, Adam Price, Thomas (Westhoughton)
Broughton, Dr. A. D. D. Hynd, John Price, William (Rugby)
Brown, Bob (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, W.) Irvine, Sir Arthur (Edge Hill) Probert, Arthur
Brown, R. W. (Shoreditch & F'bury)
Buchan, Norman Jay, Rt. Hn. Douglas Rankin, John
Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.) Jeger, George (Goole) Rees, Merlyn
Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green) Jeger, Mrs. Lena (H'b'n & St. P'cras, S.) Richard, Ivor
Callaghan, Rt. Hn. James Jenkins, Rt. Hn. Roy (Stechford) Roberts, Gwilym (Bedfordshire, S.)
Carter-Jones, Lewis Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.) Robertson, John (Paisley)
Coe, Denis Jones, Dan (Burnley) Robinson, Rt. Hn. Kenneth (St. P'c'as)
Coleman, Donald Jones, Rt. Hn. Sir Elwyn (W. Ham, S.) Rodgers, William (Stockton)
Conlan, Bernard Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham) Roebuck, Roy
Corbet, Mrs. Freda Jones, T. Alec (Rhondda, West) Rose, Paul
Craddock, George (Bradford, S.) Judd, Frank Ross, Rt. Hn. William
Crawshaw, Richard Kelley, Richard Rowlands, E.
Crossman, Rt. Hn. Richard Kenyon, Clifford Ryan, John
Davidson, Arthur (Accrington) Kerr, Mrs. Anne (R'ter & Chatham) Shaw, Arnold (Ilford, S.)
Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.) Kerr, Russell (Feltham) Sheldon, Robert
Davies, Dr. Ernest (Stretford) Leadbitter, Ted Shinwell, Rt. Hn. E.
Davies, Rt. Hn. Harold (Leek) Lee, Rt. Hn. Frederick (Newton) Shore, Rt. Hn. Peter (Stepney
Davies, Ifor (Gower) Lee, John (Reading) Short, Mrs. Renée (W'hampton, N. E.)
Davies, S. O. (Merthyr) Lestor, Miss Joan Silkin, Hn. S. C. (Dulwich)
Delargy, Hugh Lewis, Arthur (W. Ham, N.) Silverman, Julius
Dell, Edmund Lomas, Kenneth Slater, Joseph
Dempsey, James Loughlin, Charles Spriggs, Leslie
Dewar, Donald Luard, Evan Stonehouse, Rt. Hn. John
Diamond, Rt. Hn. John Lyon, Alexander W. (York) Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R.
Dickens, James Lyons, Edward (Bradford, E.) Symonds, J. B.
Dobson, Ray McCann, John Taverne, Dick
Driberg, Tom MacDermot, Niall Thomas, Rt. Hn. George
Dunn, James A. Macdonald, A. H. Tinn, James
Dunnett, Jack McGuire, Michael Tomney, Frank
Dunwoody, Mrs. Gwyneth (Exeter) McKay, Mrs. Margaret Tuck, Raphael
Mackenzie, Gregor (Rutherglen) Urwin, T. W.
Dunwoody, Dr. John (F'th & C'b'e) Mackie, John Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne Valley)
Edwards, Robert (Bilston) Maclennan, Robert Walker, Harold (Doncaster)
Ellis, John MacMillan, Malcolm (Western Isles) Wallace, George
English, Michael Mahon, Peter (Preston, S.) Watkins, David (Consett)
Ennals, David Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg) Watkins, Tudor (Brecon & Radnor)
Ensor, David Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.) Wellbeloved, James
Evans, Fred (Caerphilly) Manuel, Archie Whitaker, Ben
Fernyhough, E. Marks, Kenneth White, Mrs. Eirene
Finch, Harold Marquand, David Wilkins, W. A.
Fitch, Alan (Wigan) Marsh, Rt. Hn. Richard Willey, Rt. Hn. Frederick
Fletcher, Rt. Hn. Sir Eric (Islington, E.) Mason, Rt. Hn. Roy Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.)
Fletcher, Ted (Darlington) Mayhew, Christopher Williams, Alan Lee (Hornchurch)
Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale) Mellish, Rt. Hn. Robert Williams, Clifford (Abertillery)
Ford, Ben Mendelson, John Williams, W. T. (Warrington)
Forrester, John Mikardo, Ian Willis, Rt. Hn. George
Fowler, Gerry Millan, Bruce Wilson, William (Coventry, S.)
Freeson, Reginald Miller, Dr. M. S. Woodburn, Rt. Hn. A.
Garrett, W. E. Milne, Edward (Blyth) Woof, Robert
Ginsburg, David Mitchell, R. C. (S'th'pton, Test) Wyatt, Woodrow
Gordon Walker, Rt. Hn. P. C. Molloy, William
Gray, Dr. Hugh (Yarmouth) Morgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire) TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Greenwood, Rt. Hn. Anthony Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw) Mr. Ioan L. Evans and
Mr. Joseph Harper.
Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash) Gresham Cooke, R. Nabarro, Sir Gerald
Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead) Grieve, Percy Neave, Airey
Astor, John Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds) Noble, Rt. Hn. Michael
Atkins, Humphrey (M't'n & M'd'n) Gurden, Harold Onslow, Cranley
Awdry, Daniel Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury) Orr, Capt. L. P. S.
Baker, Kenneth (Acton) Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N. W.) Osborn, John (Hallam)
Balniel, Lord Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere Osborne, Sir Cyril (Louth)
Barber, Rt. Hn. Anthony Harvie Anderson, Miss Page, Graham (Crosby)
Batsford, Brian Hay, John Page, John (Harrow, W.)
Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton Heald, Rt. Hn. Sir Lionel Pearson, Sir Frank (Clitheroe)
Bell, Ronald Heath, Rt. Hn. Edward Percival, Ian
Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torquay) Higgins, Terence L. Peyton, John
Berry, Hn. Anthony Hirst, Geoffrey Pike, Miss Mervyn
Biggs-Davison, John Holland, Philip Pink, R. Bonner
Birch, Rt. Hn. Nigel Howell, David (Guildford) Pounder, Rafton
Black, Sir Cyril Hunt, John Prior, J. M. L.
Blaker, Peter Hutchison, Michael Clark Pym, Francis
Body, Richard Iremonger, T. L. Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David
Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hn. John Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye) Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon
Boyle, Rt. Hn. Sir Edward Jenkin, Patrick (Woodford) Ridley, Hn. Nicholas
Brinton, Sir Tatton Jennings, J. C. (Burton) Ridsdale, Julian
Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. Sir Walter Johnson Smith, G. (E. Grinstead) Rodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks)
Brown, Sir Edward (Bath) Johnston, Russell (Inverness) Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey)
Bruce-Gardyne, J. Jopling, Michael Royle, Anthony
Buck, Antony (Colchester) King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.) Russell, Sir Ronald
Bullus, Sir Eric Kitson, Timothy Scott, Nicholas
Burden, F. A. Knight, Mrs. Jill Scott-Hopkins, James
Campbell, Gordon (Moray & Nairn) Lambton, Viscount Sharples, Richard
Carlisle, Mark Lane, David Shaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby)
Carr, Rt. Hn. Robert Langford-Holt, Sir John Silvester, Frederick
Chichester-Clark, R. Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry Smith, John (London & W'minister)
Clark, Henry Lloyd, Rt. Hn. Selwyn (Wirral) Speed, Keith
Cooke, Robert Longden, Gilbert Stainton, Keith
Costain, A. P. MacArthur, Ian Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir M.
Craddock, Sir Beresford (Spelthorne) Mackenzie, Alasdair (Ross&Crom'ty) Summers, Sir Spencer
Crouch, David Maclean, Sir Fitzroy Tapsell, Peter
Crowder, F. P. Macleod, Rt. Hn. Iain Temple, John M.
Currie, G. B. H. McMaster, Stanley Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret
Dalkeith, Earl of Macmillan, Maurice (Farnham) Thorpe, Rt. Hn. Jeremy
d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry McNair-Wilson, Michael van Straubenzee, W. R.
Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F. (Ashford) McNaire-Wilson, Patrick (NewForest) Vaughan-Morgan, Rt. Hn. Sir John
Dodds-Parker, Douglas Marten, Neil Waddington, David
Doughty, Charles Maude, Angus Walker, Peter (Worcester)
Drayson, G. B. Mawby, Ray Wall, Patrick
Eden, Sir John Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J. Walters, Dennis
Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton) Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C. Ward, Dame Irene
Eyre, Reginald Mills, Peter (Torrington) Wells, John (Maidstone)
Farr, John Mills, Stratton (Belfast, N.) Whitelaw, Rt. Hn. William
Fisher, Nigel Miscampbell, Norman Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Fraser, Rt. Hn. Hugh (St'fford & Stone) Mitchell, David (Basingstoke) Winstanley, Dr. M. P.
Gilmour, Ian (Norfolk, C.) Monro, Hector Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick
Glover, Sir Douglas Morgan, Geraint (Denbigh) Wood, Rt. Hn. Richard
Goodhart, Philip Morgan-Giles, Rear-Adm. Woodnutt, Mark
Goodhew, Victor Morrison, Charles (Devizes) Worsley, Marcus
Gower, Raymond Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles
Grant, Anthony Munro-Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Grant-Ferris, R. Murton, Oscar Mr. R. W. Elliott and
Mr. Bernard Weatherill.

Question put accordingly, That the Clause be read a Second time:—

The House divided: Ayes 169, Noes 227.

Division No. 189.] AYES [6.34 p.m.
Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash) Boyle, Rt. Hn. Sir Edward Craddock, Sir Beresford (Spelthorne)
Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead) Brinton, Sir Tatton Crouch, David
Astor, John Bromley-Davenport, Lt. -Col. Sir Walter Crowder, F. P.
Awdry, Daniel Brown, Sir Edward (Bath) Currie, G. B. H.
Baker, Kenneth (Acton) Bruce-Gardyne, J. DalKeith, Earl of
Balniel, Lord Buck, Antony (Colchester) d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry
Batsford, Brian Bullus, Sir Eric Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F. (Ashford)
Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton Burden, F. A. Dodds-Parker, Douglas
Bell, Ronald Campbell, B. (Oldham, W.) Doughty, Charles
Berry, Hn. Anthony Campbell, Gordon (Moray & Nairn) Drayson, G. B.
Biggs-Davison, John Carlisle, Mark Eden, Sir John
Birch, Rt. Hn. Nigel Carr, Rt. Hn. Robert Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton)
Black, Sir Cyril Chichester-Clark, R, Elliott, R. W. (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, N.)
Blaker, Peter Cooke, Robert Farr, John
Body, Richard Cordle, John Fisher, Nigel
Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hn. John Costain, A. P. Fraser, Rt. Hn. Hugh (St'fford & Stone)
Gilmour, Ian (Norfolk, C.) Maclean, Sir Fitzroy Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon
Glover, Sir Douglas Macleod, Rt. Hn. Iain Ridley, Hn. Nicholas
Goodhart, Philip McMaster, Stanley Ridsdale, Julian
Goodhew, Victor Macmillan, Maurice (Farnham) Rodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks)
Gower, Raymond McNair-Wilson, Michael Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey)
Grant, Anthony McNair-Wilson, Patrick (NewForest) Royle, Anthony
Grant-Ferris, R. Marten, Neil Russell, Sir Ronald
Gresham Cooke, R. Maude, Angus Scott, Nicholas
Grieve, Percy Mawby, Ray Scott-Hopkins, James
Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds) Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J. Sharples, Richard
Gurden, Harold Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C. Shaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby)
Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury) Mills, Peter (Torrington) Silvester, Frederick
Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N. W.) Mills, Stratton (Belfast, N.) Smith, John (London & W'minster)
Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere Miscampbell, Norman Speed, Keith
Harvie Anderson, Miss Mitchell, David (Basingstoke) Stainton, Keith
Hay, John Monro, Hector Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir M.
Heald, Rt. Hn. Sir Lionel Morgan, Geraint (Denbigh) Summers, Sir Spencer
Heath, Rt. Hn. Edward Morgan-Giles, Rear-Adm. Tapsell, Peter
Higgins, Terence L. Morrison, Charles (Devizes) Temple, John M.
Hirst, Geoffrey Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret
Holland, Philip Munro-Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Thorpe, Rt. Hn. Jeremy
Howell David (Guildford) Murton, Oscar van Straubenzee, W. R.
Hunt, John Nabarro, Sir Gerald Vaughan-Morgan, Rt. Hn. Sir John
Hutchison, Michael Clark Neave, Airey Waddington, David
Iremonger, T. L. Noble, Rt. Hn. Michael Walker, Peter (Worcester)
Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye) Onslow, Cranley Wall, Patrick
Jenkin, Patrick (Woodford) Orr, Capt. L. P. S. Walters, Dennis
Jennings, J. C. (Burton) Osborn, John (Hallam) Ward, Dame Irene
Johnson Smith, G. (E. Grinstead) Osborne, Sir Cyril (Louth) Weatherill, Bernard
Johnston, Russell (Inverness) Page, Graham (Crosby) Wells, John (Maidstone)
Jopling, Michael Page, John (Harrow, W.) Whitelaw, Rt. Hn. William
King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.) Pearson, Sir Frank (Clitheroe) Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Kitson, Timothy Percival, Ian Winstanley, Dr. M. P.
Knight, Mrs. Jill Peyton, John Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick
Lambton, Viscount Pike, Miss Mervyn Wood, Rt. Hn. Richard
Lane, David Pink, R. Bonner Woodnutt, Mark
Langford-Holt, Sir John Pounder, Rafton Worsley, Marcus
Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry Prior, J. M. L.
Lloyd, Rt. Hn. Selwyn (Wirral) Pym, Francis TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Longden, Gilbert Quennell, Miss J. M. Mr. Reginald Eyre and
MacArthur, Ian Rees-Davies, W. R. Mr. Humphrey Atkins.
Mackenzie, Alasdair (Ross&Crom'ty) Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David
Albu, Austen Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.) Griffiths, Eddie (Brightside)
Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.) Davies, Dr. Ernest (Stretford) Griffiths, Rt. Hn. James (Llanelly)
Anderson, Donald Davies, Rt. Hn. Harold (Leek) Griffiths, Will (Exchange)
Archer, Peter Davies, Ifor (Gower) Hamilton, James (Bothwell)
Ashley, Jack Davies, S. O. (Merthyr) Hamilton, William (Fife, W.)
Ashton, Joe (Bassetlaw) Delargy, Hugh Hamling, William
Atkins, Ronald (Preston, N.) Dell, Edmund Harrison, Walter (Wakefield)
Atkinson, Norman (Tottenham) Dempsey, James Hart, Rt. Hn. Judith
Bagier, Gordon A. T. Dewar, Donald Haseldine, Norman
Barnes, Michael Diamond, Rt. Hn. John Hattersley, Roy
Barnett, Joel Dickens, James Hazell, Bert
Beaney, Alan Dobson, Ray Henig, Stanley
Bence, Cyril Driberg, Tom Herbison, Rt. Hn. Margaret
Benn, Rt. Hn. Anthony Wedgwood Dunn, James A. Hobden, Dennis
Bidwell, Sydney Dunwoody, Mrs. Gwyneth (Exeter) Horner, John
Binns, John Dunwoody, Dr. John (F'th & C'b'e) Howell, Denis (Small Heath)
Bishop, E. S. Edwards, Robert (Bilston) Howie, W.
Blackburn, F. Ellis, John Hoy, James
Booth, Albert English, Michael Huckfield, Leslie
Boston, Terence Ennals, David Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)
Boyden, James Ensor, David Hughes, Roy (Newport)
Bradley, Tom Evans, Fred (Caerphilly) Hunter, Adam
Bray, Dr. Jeremy Fernyhough, E. Hynd, John
Broughton, Dr. A. D. D. Finch, Harold Irvine, Sir Arthur (Edge Hill)
Brown, Bob (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, W.) Fitch, Alan (Wigan) Jay, Rt. Hn. Douglas
Buchan, Norman Fletcher, Rt. Hn. Sir Eric (Islington, E.) Jeger, George (Goole)
Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.) Fletcher, Ted (Darlington) Jeger, Mrs. Lena (H'b'n&St. P'cras, S.)
Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green) Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale) Jenkins, Rt. Hn. Roy (Stechford)
Callaghan, Rt. Hn. James Ford, Ben Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.)
Carter-Jones, Lewis Forrester, John Jones, Rt. Hn. Sir Elwyn (W. Ham, S.)
Coe, Denis Fowler, Gerry Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)
Coleman, Donald Freeson, Reginald Jones, T. Alec (Rhondda, West)
Conlan, Bernard Garrett, W. E. Judd, Frank
Corbet, Mrs. Freda Ginsburg, David Kelley, Richard
Craddock, George (Bradford, S.) Gordon Walker, Rt. Hn. P. C. Kenyon, Clifford
Crawshaw, Richard Gray, Dr. Hugh (Yarmouth) Kerr, Mrs. Anne (R'ter & Chatham)
Crossman, Rt. Hn. Richard Greenwood, Rt. Hn. Anthony Kerr, Russell (Feltham)
Davidson, Arthur (Accrington) Grey, Charles (Durham) Leadbitter, Ted
Daviea, Ednyfed Hudson (Conway) Griffiths, David (Rother Valley) Lee, Rt. Hn. Frederick (Newton)
Lee, John (Reading) Newens, Stan Shore, Rt. Hn. Peter (Stepney)
Lestor, Miss Joan Ogden, Eric Short, Mrs. Renée (W'hampton, N. E.)
Lewis, Arthur (W. Ham, N.) O'Malley, Brian Silverman, Julius
Lomas, Kenneth Oram, Albert E. Slater, Joseph
Loughlin, Charles Orbach, Maurice Sprigge, Leslie
Luard, Evan Orme, Stanley Stonehouse, Rt. Hn. John
Lyon, Alexander W. (York) Oswald, Thomas Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R.
Lyons, Edward (Bradford, E.) Owen, Dr. David (Plymouth, S'tn) Symonds, J. B.
McCann, John Owen, Will (Morpeth) Taverne, Dick
MacDermot, Niall Page, Derek (King's Lynn) Thomas, Rt. Hn. George
Macdonald, A. H. Paget, R. T. Tinn, James
McGuire, Michael Palmer, Arthur Tomney, Frank
McKay, Mrs. Margaret Park, Trevor Tuck, Raphael
Mackenzie, Gregor (Rutherglen) Parker, John (Dagenham) Urwin, T. W.
Mackie, John Pavitt, Laurence Varley, Eric G.
Maclennan, Robert Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd) Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne Valley)
MacMillan, Malcolm (Western Isles) Peart, Rt. Hn. Fred Walker, Harold (Doncaster)
Mahon, peter (Preston, S.) Pentland, Norman Wallace, George
Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg) Perry, Ernest C. (Battersea, S.) Watkins, David (Consett)
Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.) Price, Christopher (Perry Barr) Watkins, Tudor (Brecon & Radnor)
Manuel, Archie Price, Thomas (Westhoughton) Wellbeloved, James
Marks, Kenneth Price, William (Rugby) Whitaker, Ben
Marquand, David Probert, Arthur White, Mrs. Eirene
Marsh, Rt. Hn. Richard Rankin, John Wilkins, W. A.
Mason, Rt. Hn. Roy Rees, Merlyn Willey, Rt. Hn. Frederick
Mayhew, Christopher Richard, Ivor Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.)
Mellish, Rt. Hn. Robert Roberts, Gwilym (Bedfordshire, S.) Williams, Alan Lee (Hornchurch)
Mendelson, John Robertson, John (Paisley) Williams, Clifford (Abertillery)
Mikardo, Ian Robinson, Rt. Hn. Kenneth (St. P'c'as) Williams, W. T. (Warrington)
Millan, Bruce Rodgers, William (Stockton) Willis, Rt. Hn. George
Millar, Dr. M. S. Roebuck, Roy Wilson, William (Coventry, S.)
Mitchell, R. C. (S'th'pton, Test) Rose, Paul Woodburn, Rt. Hn. A.
Molloy, William Ross, Rt. Hn. William Woof, Robert
Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw) Rowlands, E. Wyatt, Woodrow
Morris, John (Aberavon) Ryan, John
Moyle, Roland Shaw, Arnold (Ilford, S.) TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Murray, Albert Sheldon, (Robert Mr. Ioan L. Evans and
Neal, Harold Shinwell, Rt. Hn. E. Mr. Joseph Harper.
Forward to