HC Deb 29 June 1978 vol 952 cc1556-8
8. Mr. McCrindle

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what recent discussions he has had with representatives of banking and insurance.

Mr. Robert Sheldon

My right hon. Friend has frequent contacts, both formal and informal, with representatives of the financial community.

Mr. McCrindle

When the Chancellor of the Exchequer next meets the leaders of the banks and the insurance companies, will he be able to confirm not only that the Labour Party has now no plans for the nationalisation of these concerns but that without a mandate so to do it would not propose, in the unlikely event of being returned to form the next Government, to legislate for the direction of the funds of these institutions, no matter what the Wilson Committee may recommend?

Mr. Sheldon

We have, of course, set up in the meantime the Wilson Committee, which will be reporting, and which is taking a wide degree of evidence. It would be foolish to produce conclusions while so much work has yet to be done, let alone before receiving the report, which we await with great interest.

Mr. Heffer

I trust that my right hon. Friend and the Chancellor of the Exchequer will take note of the decisions of the Labour Party conference in relation to banking and insurance companies. Even if there is not a full-scale public ownership of these institutions, is it not quite clear that the time has come for greater control over them, in order that we can get the investment where it is needed in this country, in a planned and intelligent way?

Mr. Sheldon

I fully understand the point that my hon. Friend is making. I have also noted fully the statement on banking and finance that was made at the conference. The Wilson Committee is at present taking the second part of its evidence—the very interesting part, on the supervision of financial institutions—and will be reporting in due course. That report, together with the vast amount of information that it will bring together, will form the basis of the final plans of the Government in these matters.

Mr. David Steel

Will the right hon. Gentleman assure the banking and insurance world that, whatever the Labour Party conference may say, there will be no encroachment of public ownership on these sectors so long as the Lib-Lab agreement is in force?

Mr. Sheldon

I am not sure of the length of life that the right hon. Gentle- man has in mind for the Lib-Lab pact, but, of course, I can confirm quite clearly that it is the Government's view that major structural changes in financial institutions are not necessary at the present time.

Mr. Tapsell

Does the Financial Secretary agree that those Labour Ministers and hon. Members who are advocating direction of investment are posing a threat to the ultimate value of the pensions of millions of workers in this country?

Mr. Sheldon

I think that the hon. Gentleman is overstating the case. I do not think that the pension funds and financial institutions are over-worried about that side of these matters; I think that they are interested in seeing the information that is being gathered by the Wilson Committee and the full consideration that will be available in due course.

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