Steel Companies (Loans)

Oral Answers to Questions — Ministry of Power – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 25th May 1965.

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Photo of Hon. Nicholas Ridley Hon. Nicholas Ridley , Cirencester and Tewkesbury 12:00 am, 25th May 1965

asked the Minister of Power what is the total amount of loans made by the Exchequer to steel companies that are in private ownership, since the time of their denationalisation.

Photo of Mr Frederick Lee Mr Frederick Lee , Newton

I would refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave the right hon. Member for Sutton Coldfield (Mr. Geoffrey Lloyd) on 11th May.

Photo of Hon. Nicholas Ridley Hon. Nicholas Ridley , Cirencester and Tewkesbury

Is the Minister aware that he has been misleading the House about this—[Interruption.]—that there have, in fact, been loans of only £50 million and £27 million issued to private steel companies since nationalisation? Why does the right hon. Gentleman keep on repeating the figure of £400 million? Will he now admit that this is a misleading figure, and will he withdraw it from further utterances in the House?

Photo of Mr Frederick Lee Mr Frederick Lee , Newton

I will certainly not do anything of the sort. The figure of £400 million covers the Ministry's loans to R.T.B., which were £70 million—

Hon. Members:

Nationalised.

Photo of Mr Frederick Lee Mr Frederick Lee , Newton

What has that got to do with it? Hon. Gentlemen opposite must face the fact that we could not have got the necessary capacity in steel had we asked private industry to do it. Indeed, they refused point blank and the only way we managed to get it was by this huge injection of public money into the industry.

Photo of Hon. Nicholas Ridley Hon. Nicholas Ridley , Cirencester and Tewkesbury

Is the Minister aware that he has repeatedly said in the House that £400 million has been put into the privately-owned steel industry? Is he aware that that is false, and will he now admit that?

Photo of Mr Frederick Lee Mr Frederick Lee , Newton

In that event, will the hon. Gentleman admit that his hon. Friends are wrong in saying that the industry is privately-owned?