HC Deb 14 November 1974 vol 881 cc580-2
19. Mr. Hooley

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what international discussions, to which the United Kingdom Government are a party, are in progress designed to reduce the general level of interest rates.

Mr. Dell

There are no formal and specific discussions currently in progress, but the subject is discussed frequently in a wide range of bilateral and multilateral international meetings. In recent weeks there has, in fact, been some general reduction in international interest rates.

Mr. Hooley

That reduction is welcome, but if it is impossible to make progress on international agreements in this field will my right hon. Friend examine the possibility of having two-tier interest rates internally so that we can have preferential rates of interest for social and industrial investment?

Mr. Dell

This matter has been discussed with my hon. Friend before. It would be difficult to insulate by effective barriers the two tiers which my hon. Friend recommends. I am sure he will welcome the success of the Government in producing some reduction in interest rates over the past few months.

Mr. Norman Lamont

Does the Paymaster-General recall the statement of the Chancellor of the Exchequer in his March Budget that the most important thing for reducing domestic interest rates was to reduce the domestic borrowing requirement? Does the right hon. Gentleman think that an increase in the borrowing requirement will help to reduce interest rates?

Mr. Dell

The hon. Gentleman should go by the record. We have reduced interest rates, just as we have been successful so far in keeping the money supply under better control than the previous Government did.

Mr. Burden

What is the current borrowing rate for overseas borrowing by the present Government?

Mr. Dell

I think I had better ask for notice of that question. Some borrowings by nationalised industries are confidential, but if the hon. Gentleman puts down a specific Question about what he specifically wants to know I shall see what we can do to answer it.

Mr. Cant

I appreciate that the increase in the borrowing requirement has, unfortunately, forced up yields in the gilt- edged market, but does not my right hon. Friend think that we are being a little too cautious when interest rates are declining in Europe and the United States'? Does he not have sufficient confidence in the banking system of this country to offer the sort of attraction that is required to the Arabs in relation to their oil money? Does he not think that he could reduce interest rates in this country and still keep Arab oil money here?

Mr. Dell

The relationship between domestic interest rates and Eurodollar interest rates has changed over the past few years, and there is now a differential in favour of sterling. This is a matter that we watch, but we have to bear in mind the relationship between domestic and international rates.