HL Deb 14 May 1969 vol 302 cc138-9

3.40 p.m.


My Lords, with your Lordships' permission, I will now answer the private Notice Question put by the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, by repeating the Statement made by my right honourable friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The Statement is as follows:

"I announced in my Budget. Speech my intention to discuss with our creditors, including the International Monetary Fund, the phasing of our repayments of external debt. As a method of refinancing these re payments, including the repurchases which are falling due this year in respect of our 1965 I.M.F. drawing, there have been discussions in recent weeks with the Staff of the I.M.F. of the possibilities of further stand-by facilities. I have every reason to expect a satisfactory conclusion, but no formal application has yet been made, the documentation has not yet been filially settled, and. the matter will have to go to the Executive Board of the I.M.F.

"A full statement will be made to the House when the arrangements are complete and my honourable friend the Financial Secretary has already announced that any Letter of Intent will be published. In the meantime it would be wrong for me to give piecemeal indications of matters which are currently under negotiation beyond saying that there will be nothing contrary to the policy outlined in my Budget Speech."


My Lords, may I thank the noble Lord for making that Statement. Is it clear that this is a stand-by credit, or is it a means of refinancing further repayments? If it is a means of re-financing further repayments, shall we be told what the new rate of interest, presumably much higher than the previous one, will be? If it is only a stand-by as a last resort, is a commitment fee payable?


My Lords, under the normal arrangement with regard to a commitment fee, it will be payable whether the stand-by fund is drawn upon or not. It is basically a stand-by fund and will be available for repayments on the lines to which I have referred.


My Lords, may I ask the noble Lord whether he will ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer to bear in mind in the course of the negotiations that it is no good bleeding a patient very nearly to death if you have hopes of his early recovery? And will he bear in mind that he should not submit to too tough measures, because he has many bargaining factors in his own hand?


My Lords, I quite agree with what the noble Lord says in the latter part of his remarks as to the toughness of the measures. The measures were outlined in the Budget Speech of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and the policy to be pursued will be in accordance with that line.