§ Mr. Thompson
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what plans he has for the prepayment of official external debt; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Lawson
As my center hon. Friend explained in his 1979 Budget Statement, it is the Government's objective to secure a substantial reduction in the burden of our official external debt during the life of this Parliament. Since entering office, we have repaid $4.6 billion of debt, comprising $2.8 billion of scheduled repayment and $1.8 billion ahead of schedule. New borrowing has totalled $2.2 billion and net repayments have thus amounted to $2.4 billion, leaving about $20 billion outstanding. With the reserves standing at historically high levels, we now consider there is scope to make further prepayment of debt in 1980. We have, therefore, decided to prepay this year the whole of Her Majesty's Government's $1.5 billion Euro-dollar loan which was originally raised in 1977 and renegotiated in 1978. The loan would otherwise have matured between 1985 and 1988. Notice has accordingly been given today of our intention to repay the first tranche of $100 million on 27 August and further notice will be given as each individual tranche becomes due for rollover.