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National Finance

Volume 441: debated on Tuesday 29 July 1947

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Dollar Reserves

48.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer to what extent the drain on our dollar reserves has increased since 15th July.

There has been no substantial change in the drain during the fortnight since 15th July compared with the immediately preceding period. Arrangements with a number of countries for the transferability of sterling were, of course, in operation before 15th July.

Tobacco Duty (Concession)

49.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he is now in a position to state when the concessions on cigarettes and tobacco already promised are likely to commence.

As soon as the necessary printing and other arrangements can be completed.

In view of the fact that it is three months since the Budget, is the Chancellor able to say whether he will be able to give notice of these concessions before the House rises for the Recess?

I do not want to name a date, because I do not want to cause disappointment among old people, if it cannot be firmly held. After all, the Finance Bill is hardly yet law. It was not possible to put these concessions into final preparation until the House approved the new Clause which I put down on the Report stage. I can assure the House that there is no intention to delay, but I would rather not name a date.

Nationalised Industries (Compensation)

51.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what steps he is taking to prevent the compensation to owners of industries about to be nationalised being vitiated by the recent fall in the value of Government securities, exemplified by the present price of 91¼ for the 2½ per cent. Treasury Stock issued last October

The terms of compensation will be settled when the time comes, having regard to the price of Government securities at that time.

Foreign Currency Allowances

52.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much foreign currency has been applied for, during the first six months of this year, for holiday expenditure abroad; and how many people he estimates have gone abroad on holiday during that time.

In view of the fact that it takes a long time for holiday associations to prepare dates to send people abroad, could he give any indication whether he thinks this is too great a sum, in view of the fact that many people are now preparing for their winter holidays abroad?

I think that the hon. Gentleman had better wait and see what is coming along.

Anglo-Iranian Oil Company

53.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much the total value of the shares in the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company owned by the nation has risen since 1st January.

Sterling Convertibility

54.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer with what countries arrangements have been concluded whereby sterling received by them from the International Fund becomes convertible; and whether such arrangements apply also to all sterling-area currencies.

No such arrangements are needed, since sterling received from the Fund, is not distinguished from other sterling currently accruing.

Does that mean that all the sterling we have made available to the International Monetary Fund is convertible; and does it further mean that all currencies within the sterling area are ex-changeable first, into sterling, and, secondly, into any other currency?

I have tried to put the answer very plainly to the hon. Gentleman's Question. No special problem arises with regard to moneys drawn from the Fund as distinct from the general problem of sterling currently accruing. Sterling drawn from the fund is sterling currently accruing.

Does this mean that in addition to sterling currently accruable, all sums drawn from the International Monetary Fund either in sterling or sterling area currencies are convertible?

Anglo-Uruguayan Payments Agreement

55.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer for what reason no counterclaims were made by His Majesty's Government against the sterling balances held by Uruguay before the payments agreement dated 15th July, 1947, was signed.

As in other cases, I have stated that His Majesty's Government reserve their position with regard to an adjustment of all sterling balances accumulated under war-time conditions.

His Majesty's Government from this answer seem always to be reserving their position; and may I ask the right hon. Gentleman, in view of the categorical assurances he has given this House respecting counterclaims, whether such assurances will be translated into action or for ever remain on the basis of "reserving their position"?

56.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he has formed an estimate for the current financial year of the liability of convertibility assumed by His Majesty's Government under the Anglo-Uruguayan Payments Agreement.

It is expected that payments under this Agreement will approximately balance.