It would have been contrary to the intention of the measures my right hon. Friend announced on 19th September for the Exchequer to have injected new money into the market.
I do not know about the business of injecting new money into the market, or about the business of "stagging" new issues, to which the right hon. Gentleman referred last week, both of which remind one of conversations on the grouse moors. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] Would the Economic Secretary tell us whether he really thinks this sort of fairground method of raising money really does meet the needs of one of the major industries of this country?
(2) to whom the underwriting and sub-underwriting of the British Petroleum issue was allocated; what was the cost of the underwriting; and to what extent, as majority shareholder, Her Majesty's Government was consulted as to the allocation or the cost.
Her Majesty's Government were told in advance what form the new issue would take but its terms and the underwriting arrangements were the responsibility of the company.
Is not that very regrettable? What are the Government going to do about it? It is fairly clear from the result of the market that they paid over £2 million too much for their money, that £1 million of this wasted money falls on us, and that they also wasted £750,000 by a hand-out to the underwriters? Are they satisfied with that position?
As the hon. Gentleman knows, it is not always entirely possible to predict in advance the result of issues. The price of this issue, with which we had nothing to do, was fixed a long time in advance. As the hon. Gentleman also knows, in quite a number of recent cases there have been large losses by the underwriters. It was their duty to get the best terms they could, and I have no doubt they did so.