asked the Minister of Health if he is aware that 4¾ per cent. interest has been charged to the West Ham Board of Guardians for the loan of the last £400,000; what is the total amount of money that has been loaned to the West Ham Board of Guardians during the last three years; if he is aware that in the course of about eight years the board will have paid nearly £300,000 in interest on account of the Government charging interest upon money loaned them varying from 6 per cent to 4¾ per cent.; and what profit the Government has made upon the transaction?
The facts are as stated by my hon. Friend. The total of the advances made to the guardians amounts to £1,400,000. These loans were made at the current market rate of interest for loans of similar currency, and no question of profit arises.
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that, by the time the West Ham Board of Guardians have paid the whole of the principal and interest, they will have paid more in the shape of interest than the amount of the principal? Is that not highway robbery, and, if not, what kind of robbery does he call it?