§ [SECOND READING.]
§ Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.
§ LORD HYLTON
My Lords, this is an annual Bill for the purpose of authorising the issue of money from the Local Loans Fund for loans and for other purposes connected with that Fund. Clause 1 authorises the issue to the Public Works Loans Commissioners in Great Britain of a sum not exceeding £1,000,000, and to the Commissioners of Public Works in Ireland of a sum not exceeding £300,000, for the purpose of making loans in the ensuing year. These sums are the maxima; the actual loans issued will probably be considerably less.
During the war the total amount of loans issued has been very small owing to obvious causes—partially to the drastic restrictions placed on capital expenditure and the very high rate of interest that is now charged (I think 5½ per cent. is now the lowest rate), and, further, owing to difficulties of obtaining labour and materials. In the year 1914 the amount authorised in Great Britain was £6,000,000, and in Ireland £600,000. Since that year there has been a gradual decrease. Last year the amounts were £1,500,000 in Great Britain, and £200,000 in Ireland. This year the sums asked for are, as I have stated, £1,000,000 in Great Britain, and £300,000 in Ireland. The increase in the case of Ireland is in order to provide for urgent loans for housing, and possibly for reconstruction in Dublin. Provision for these loans must be made even during the course of the war, because of commitments which were arranged for previous to the war, and of other urgent expenditure for public health purposes, munitions, housing, and so forth.
Clause 2 writes off from the Local Loans Fund the balance of principal of certain funds now regarded as irrecoverable. The principal balance which is irrecoverable is 82 connected with an Eyemouth loan, in Scotland; the others are in respect of small loans in Ireland. They are all mentioned in the Schedule to the Bill. Clause 4 gives the Treasury power to fix the rate of interest on future local loans that are not on the security of local rates. In the case of loans which are secured on the local rates—far the most important class of loans—the Treasury already fixes the rate of interest as required by the varying conditions of the Money Market, and it is now proposed to give the Treasury the same power in regard to loans made out of the Local Loans Fund otherwise than on the security of local rates.
§ Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.—(Lord Hylton.)
§ On Question, Bill read 2a, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House to-morrow.