HC Deb 12 December 1974 vol 883 c756
24. Mr. Hordern

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will give the total of overseas debt outstanding at the latest convenient date.

Mr. Dell

Government foreign currency debt outstanding at the end of November was $4,811 million—roughly £2,000 million at current exchange rates. Other public sector foreign currency debt was $5,284 million—roughly £2,500 million.

Mr. Hordern

Will the right hon. Gentleman say what so-called interest payments are due on this enormous burden of debt which we now have to pay, and how this is affected by the fact that sterling today stands at its lowest rate ever?

Mr. Dell

There is a large interest payment outstanding on this amount as all hon. Members in the House will realise, but I am afraid that I do not have the exact figure. The House must realise that the foreign borrowing programme was begun by the Conservative Government for reasons that they regarded as good, and that we are having to continue it in view of the current large balance of payments deficit. It is our intention to reduce it as rapidly as we can, but in the immediate future we shall have to continue borrowing.

Mr. Jay

Can my right hon. Friend say what proportion of this capital sum was borrowed by the Government who were in office before March this year?

Mr. Dell

I do not have that figure with me, but clearly it was a considerable amount, the foreign borrowing programme having begun under the Conservative Government.

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