asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he is aware that since his last appeal to companies for dividend restraint a number of public companies, particularly those in oil, steel, brewery and property undertakings, have increased dividends; and whether he will issue a further appeal for dividend restraint or take legislative action to enforce dividend restraint.
What action do the Government propose to take in view of the appeals various Ministers are always making to the trade unions? Will not the Government take some action, in particular to restrain property companies who are doubling rents and, many of them, doubling dividends? Is that not inflationary?
In view of the special steps taken to restrain the National Health Service workers, does not the right hon. Gentleman think that it makes a mockery of appeals for wages restraint when these distributions of dividends take place? Can the right hon. Gentleman tell us what extra effort these people have made over that of the holders of the 3½ per cent. steel stock in the days when it was publicly owned?
As I think the hon. Gentleman is aware, the distribution policy of the steel companies has been quite exceptionally conservative. In the last five years 80 per cent. of capital development has been financed out of income.