War Loan and Undated Government Stock

Oral Answers to Questions — National Finance – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 27th June 1961.

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Photo of Mr Barnett Janner Mr Barnett Janner , Leicester North West 12:00 am, 27th June 1961

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in view of the hardship caused, particularly to those with fixed incomes, by the devaluation of War Loan and undated Government stock, if he will ascertain the number of persons wholly or principally dependent on income from such investments, with a view to determining what action is possible to relieve such hardship.

Photo of Mr Anthony Barber Mr Anthony Barber , Doncaster

I do not think that such an inquiry would serve any useful purpose, even if it was feasible.

Photo of Mr Barnett Janner Mr Barnett Janner , Leicester North West

Does the Economic Secretary mean that he is not concerned about the large number of people who are affected by this unhappy position? They are people who have relied fully on the Government when investing their money and who today find themselves in penurious conditions because the value of their stock has gone down. Will he do something about it? I ask him to realise that it is important that he should try to find what kind of people, and how many, are being affected by this.

Photo of Mr Anthony Barber Mr Anthony Barber , Doncaster

From the letters I have received and from talking to people, I am well aware of the difficulties which are facing people who hold this form of Government stock. My point is that merely to know how many people are dependent upon the income from Government securities, as suggested by the hon. Gentleman, would not help to overcome the difficulties which, as I explained to the House last December, stand in the way of adopting any special action.

Photo of Mr Douglas Jay Mr Douglas Jay , Battersea North

Does the Economic Secretary recall that in the Budget debate on 20th April the Financial Secretary said this: the Government are well in command of the monetary situation and … the gilt-edged investor can very well face the months ahead with just a little more confidence."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 20th April, 1961; Vol. 638, c. 1410.] As there has been a fall of about three points since then, will the Financial Secretary at least express sympathy with those who followed his advice?

Photo of Mr Anthony Barber Mr Anthony Barber , Doncaster

I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman will agree that that goes outside this Question, but there is another Question later on the Order Paper which deals with the extent to which investors have been investing in Government stock.

Photo of Mr David Logan Mr David Logan , Liverpool Scotland

On a point of order. I rose twice, Mr. Speaker, but you called somebody else. Have I no right to speak?

Photo of Sir Harry Hylton-Foster Sir Harry Hylton-Foster , Cities of London and Westminster

I hope that the hon. Gentleman will always have a right to speak. In point of physical fact, I did not see him, but I am afraid that, even if I had, such is the pressure on Questions nowadays that I am not entitled to indulge my wishes by calling all those I see rise.

Photo of Mr David Logan Mr David Logan , Liverpool Scotland

In view of your reply, Mr. Speaker, may I say that I was most anxious to bring before the House the 3 per cent. War Loan swindle? I thought that it was necessary to raise it as it is nothing else but a swindle.

Photo of Sir Harry Hylton-Foster Sir Harry Hylton-Foster , Cities of London and Westminster

I should greatly like to indulge the hon. Member if I could, but I cannot because it would not be fair to other hon. Members.

Photo of Miss Irene Ward Miss Irene Ward , Tynemouth

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he will receive from the hon. Member for Tynemouth, in person, letters from individuals who invested in War Loan and who have suffered hardship.

Photo of Miss Irene Ward Miss Irene Ward , Tynemouth

I thank my hon. Friend very much for that response to my invitation, but is he aware that the article in the Daily Mail on the plight of people who invested in 3½ per cent. stock has been very much emphasised? Would my right hon. and learned Friend please look at the position of those living on small fixed incomes before I come to see him, in the hope that he may be able to suggest some way of helping these people in their present very parlous condition?

Photo of Mr Anthony Barber Mr Anthony Barber , Doncaster

I think that it is apparent from what my right hon. and learned Friend has said on several occasions since 17th April that he is very concerned about the position of those living on small fixed incomes. Indeed, the whole object of his economic policy at the present time is to keep stability of currency, which will be of benefit to these people. As to the position of War Loan, which is referred to specifically in my hon. Friend's Question, I am afraid that I should be misleading the House if I gave any indication that we should be able to help in any way there.

Photo of Mr Gilbert Mitchison Mr Gilbert Mitchison , Kettering

Can the Economic Secretary now answer the supplementary question asked by my right hon. Friend the Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay) about the statement made by the Financial Secretary on 20th April?

Hon. Members:

Answer.

Photo of Mr Anthony Barber Mr Anthony Barber , Doncaster

No. There is another Question later in the Order Paper, Mr. Speaker, which deals with the extent to which people are investing in Government stock, and I should have thought the answer more relevant to that Question.

Photo of Mr David Webster Mr David Webster , Weston-Super-Mare

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in view of the depressed price of undated Government stock, showing the reluctance of investors to support Government indebtedness, if he will accelerate his investigations towards reducing that part of the national assets administered by the Government.

Photo of Mr Anthony Barber Mr Anthony Barber , Doncaster

I cannot accept the premise of my hon. Friend's Question that investors are reluctant to lend to the Government. £148 million was lent to the Government from the gilt-edged market in 1960 and we are not expecting to need any new money from that market in 1961–62.

Photo of Mr David Webster Mr David Webster , Weston-Super-Mare

Is my hon. Friend aware that, despite that reply, in addition to the hardship caused to the investors concerned, it is going to be almost impossible to raise undated Government stock in the market in the lifetime of anyone in this House? This is adding to the cost of lending money to the Government and is substantially increasing Government expenditure.

Photo of Mr Anthony Barber Mr Anthony Barber , Doncaster

I am not quite sure what my hon. Friend has in mind by that, because his original Question asked whether my right hon. and learned Friend the Chancellor will accelerate his investigations towards reducing that part of the national assets administered by the Government. I think that the Chancellor's views on the question of denationalisation are perfectly well known and I cannot usefully add to them.