Clause 2. — (Power for the Treasury to borrow.)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons on 5th August 1942.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Mr John Tinker Mr John Tinker , Leigh

On this matter I think the Committee ought to be aware of what our intention is. We believe that there is no reason to pay any interest at all on these sums, but we recognise that it would be very hard to convince the Committee of that, because the idea of interest has got hold of the public mind. But we do say that 3 per cent. is too high a rate of interest and that 2 per cent. would be sufficient at a time like the present. The State has full power now to take over everything that is necessary for the prosecution of the war. If the Government want man-power or anything else, they have the right to take it. Has not the State an equal right to take over control of all money? In that case why should the Government ask people to lend them money at interest when they have the power to take it? To my mind the question of money ought not to enter into this matter at all. The State's resources ought to be complete and there should not be any question of paying any interest on borrowed money.

Let me give one or two illustrations of what I mean. The public are invited to lend money to the State and are told that if they lend the money they will get 3 per cent. for it. The man who has a few pounds at his disposal responds to that and says, "All right, I will lend my£100" or whatever the amount may be. At the same time the man who has control of large sums of money will lend his£1,000 or his£10,000 or some larger sum, and he is getting a far greater amount in interest than the other man. The man who lends£100 gets£3 interest on it in the year; the man who lends£1,000 gets£30 interest in the year. It is true that he may have to pay back£15 by way of Income Tax, but he is still getting£15 against the other man's£3. We are demanding sacrifices from the people of the country in this war. We are saying to them, "Give all you have." There is no restriction on what people can give. But while demanding these sacrifices, we are saying to other people, "Lend us your money, and we will pay you a certain rate of interest."

I think if Parliament and the country realised what this meant, they would not tolerate it any longer, and at a time like the present, when the Consolidated Fund Bill comes before us, we have an opportunity of drawing attention to it, and we intend to do so. As my hon. Friend has said, we are prepared if necessary to go into the Division Lobby on this Amendment for the express purpose of drawing the attention of the nation to what is behind all this. I take part in meetings on behalf of what is called the War Savings Movement for the purpose of showing that the people are behind the war effort. I know in my own mind that the lending of money makes no difference at all, but I attend meetings for the purpose of getting people to show that they are determined to carry on the war, and I give all the help I can. As I have already said, the question of money has no real bearing on the question at all. The question of money ought not to be brought into consideration in this matter, and nobody, because he happens to be better off than others, ought to be able to make a profit out of the present position of affairs. That is what is happening now. You have the wealthy man making a profit while the poor man or the moderately well-off man is asked to give his all. I support the Amendment moved by my hon. Friend.