HC Deb 14 December 1971 vol 828 cc238-9
7. Mr. John Hannam

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what estimate he has made as to the effect of his new credit measures on the banking industry.

Mr. Higgins

The new arrangements have been in operation for only three months, but there is already evidence that they are having the intended effect in stimulating competition and innovation in banking.

Mr. Hannam

Is my hon. Friend aware that many small firms have welcomed the ending of the official ceiling on lending, and that this has adversely affected the investment programme of small firms, as was pointed out in the Bolton Committee Report?

Mr. Higgins

I am not quite clear about what my hon. Friend said. I understood him to say that this had been welcomed but that it had adversely affected the small firms. I will look at the matter in the context of the report, on which the Government have not yet taken a firm view.

Dr. Gilbert

Now that the Government are switching over to a policy of operating on total resources rather than on the total loans of the banks, will the hon. Gentleman consider recommending to the Bank of England that it follows the example of the Federal Reserve system in the United States, under which the minutes of the Open Market Committee are regularly published?

Mr. Higgins

No, Sir. I think that the two institutional arrangements are quite different. The arrangements we have introduced are, nonetheless, a major advance and should be recognised as being to the general benefit of the economy as a whole.