HC Deb 07 June 1976 vol 912 cc885-6
1. Mr. Canavan

asked the Secretary of State for Trade whether he is satisfied with the operation of existing legislation on banking and insurance.

The Under-Secretary of State for Trade (Mr. Clinton Davis)

The supervision of insurance companies is being progressively strengthened under the Insurance Companies Act 1974 and I do not consider that fresh powers should be sought from Parliament for the time being. As to banking, a White Paper is at an advanced stage of preparation and I must ask my hon. Friend to await its publication.

Mr. Canavan

In view of the poor public services offered by too many banks, and in view of the lack of invest- ment in industry and the unpatriotic behaviour of speculators who are damaging the pound by taking investment out of the country, would it not be appropriate now to introduce emergency measures to take more public, democratic control over investment by extending public ownership into banking and insurance?

Mr. Davis

My right hon. Friends the Secretary of State for Energy and the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster have already indicated to the House that the Government have no such plans at present.

Mr. McCrindle

In view of the vast discrepancy between what the House was told by the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and the strident tones of the latest Labour Party document, should not the Minister—first as a Minister and second as a member of the Labour Party —give added reassurance to the insurance and banking industry, upon which so much of our foreign earnings depends?

Mr. Davis

The Opposition having been soundly thrashed on this issue already by my right hon. Friends, it will avail the hon. Gentleman nothing to try to resuscitate a position in respect of which his party was so abysmally defeated.

Mr. Frank Allaun

Should not we learn from France, Germany, Italy and Japan, where most of the main banks and insurance companies are publicly owned with great success? Have they not steered more investment into industry than have our banks and insurance companies?

Mr. Davis

The Bank of England is, of course, already publicly owned. So far as insurance is concerned, for which my Department is the sponsoring Department, my hon. Friend will realise that the criteria affecting policyholders and their interests are, in a sense, better maintained in this country than they are abroad. However, that is a matter for wider public debate than is possible at Question Time.

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