HC Deb 08 April 1982 vol 21 cc1076-7
6. Sir Anthony Meyer

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what percentage of the total loans from all European Economic Community institutions came to the United Kingdom during the period of full British membership to the latest available date.

The Economic Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Jock Bruce-Gardyne)

Between 1973 and the end of 1981 the United Kingdom borrowed about 24 per cent. of total Community loans, excluding those made to Italy and Ireland for balance of payments support.

Sir Anthony Meyer

Is it not clear that there is here a valuable facility for getting long-term loans at favourable rates and that the United Kingdom economy is taking full advantage of this facility?

Mr. Bruce-Gardyne

I agree entirely with my hon. Friend. If my sums are correct, the United Kingdom economy has received from this source about £5,500 million over the last nine years. It has been of great value to the United Kingdom and continues to be so.

Mr. Spearing

If those loans did not come from the EEC, would they not have to be raised somehow from external or internal sources elsewhere? If they are made at some preferential rates, is not the cash for that coming out of taxation? Does that not mean that the power to decide on these loans is taken from Britain and from the House, and handed with our taxes to someone in the EEC?

Mr. Bruce-Gardyne

That is rather a carping response. Of course the amount of Community loans and the way in which they are allocated is under the control of the Council of Ministers in the European Community, in which my right hon. and learned Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer represents the Government and Parliament of the United Kingdom.

Mr. Teddy Taylor

As my hon. Friend obviously has studied these issues recently, can he say whether there was any special reason why the loans to the United Kingdom from the European Investment Bank of more than £400 million in 1980 were down to £143 million in 1981—the lowest figure in real terms for many years?

Mr. Bruce-Gardyne

The reason is that, as a conscious act of policy, it was decided by the Government that there was not a good case for encouraging loans by the public sector involving an exchange risk guarantee and that it made more sense to have loans from the public sector within the United Kingdom economy.

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