Shipping (Cheap Credit Guarantees)

Oral Answers to Questions — Technology – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 1 December 1969.

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Photo of Mr Simon Digby Mr Simon Digby , West Dorset 12:00, 1 December 1969

asked the Minister of Technology when he expects the cheap credit guarantees for British shipowners to be exhausted; when he expects repayments under the revolving scheme to exceed new guarantees; and whether he has now decided how to deal with the situation.

Photo of Mr Harold Lever Mr Harold Lever , Manchester Cheetham

The limit of guarantees is likely to be reached by early next year and consideration is being given to the situation which will then arise. I do not expect repayments to exceed applications for further guarantees in the foreseeable future.

Photo of Mr Simon Digby Mr Simon Digby , West Dorset

Will the right hon. Gentleman say when an early decision can be reached on the matter? Is he aware of the need for it from the point of view of the whole of the shipbuilding industry, and has he approached the banks to see whether they are willing to go on giving this artificially low credit?

Photo of Mr Harold Lever Mr Harold Lever , Manchester Cheetham

The outstanding liability under guarantees issued or offered is £335 million out of a fund of £400 million. I can promise the hon. Gentleman that a decision one way or the other will be taken in good time so as not to prejudice anybody affected by it.

Photo of Sir David Price Sir David Price , Eastleigh

Does the Minister agree that this scheme is bound to reach a peak before it settles down to a general level of credit guarantee? Will the Minister accept that this is something which I failed hopelessly to get his former colleague to accept in Standing Committee? This is an inevitable fact of life.

Photo of Mr Harold Lever Mr Harold Lever , Manchester Cheetham

If it is true that the hon. Gentleman failed with my former colleague, he can congratulate himself that I have been more receptive and have accepted his point.