HL Deb 29 January 1959 vol 213 cc971-2

3.18 p.m.


My Lords, on behalf of my noble friend Viscount Alexander of Hillsborough, I beg to ask the Question which stands in his name on the Order Paper.

[The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government (1) what is the extent of State capital at present involved in the capitalisation of Messrs. Colvilles Limited, and what is its nature; (2) what is the present debenture debt of Colvilles Limited, who are the holders of the 6 per cent. convertible debenture stock, how much is at present outstanding, and what are the assets at present charged to secure the existing debentures held by the Iron and Steel Holding and Realisation Agency; and (3) whether they intend to arrange for an additional measure of security to be entered into by the company before the first advance under the scheme set out in Col. 702 of the OFFICIAL REPORT Of the House of Lords Debates of Wednesday, 21st January, 1959.]


My Lords, State capital in Colvilles, Limited, at present consists of the holdings of the Iron and Steel Holding and Realisation Agency as follows: £10 million 4½ per cent. debenture stock 1975–1985 (fully paid); £4 million 5½ per cent. cumulative preference shares of £1 each (fully paid). In addition to the £10 million debenture stock held by the Iron and Steel Holding and Realisation Agency, Colvilles, Limited, have a further debenture debt consisting of £6 million 6 per cent. convertible debenture stock, 1978–81, which was issued to the public in January, 1958. All of these debenture stocks are at present outstanding. The debentures are secured on certain heritable properties of the company in Scotland, comprising its works at Motherwell (including Ravenscraig), Cambuslang, Tollcross, Glengarnock and Bells-hill, together with heritable plant, machinery, fixtures and fittings thereon and the whole of the issued share capitals of the company's principal subsidiaries.

As regards the third part of the Question, the company have undertaken at any time during the currency of the loan, if so requested by Her Majesty's Government, to create a second debenture in favour of Her Majesty's Government. However, the creation of a debenture deed under Scottish law is somewhat expensive, and it has been agreed that there is no object in incurring this expense until the necessity arises. Since the undertaking given by the company fully protects the Government's interests, it is not intended to seek any additional measure of security before the first advance is made under the scheme.


My Lords, may I ask the noble Lord why it is necessary to invest State funds in this company and why they cannot get their funds in the market like other people do?


I should have thought the noble Lord would be well aware of the answer to that question, since the attitude of his own Party creates an atmosphere in which it is not likely that they would succeed in getting funds from the market.