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Local Authority Loans (Conditions)

Volume 527: debated on Tuesday 11 May 1954

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7.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what recent discussions he has had with local authorities about the conditions of borrowing from the Public Works Loans Board; and whether he will now take steps to remove some of the more inconvenient conditions.

Arrangements are being made for a meeting at an early date with the Standing Committee of local authorities in order to discuss the conditions of borrowing from the Public Works Loan Board. I cannot make a further statement until these discussions have been completed.

Will the Chancellor bear in mind that some local authorities have a ready market for borrowing privately on their own doorsteps but that others have not, and that it is most desirable to remove some of the inconveniences for such authorities so that they can borrow their money on not much less favourable terms than some of the bigger and more powerful authorities?

We have always had in mind the need to differentiate between one authority and another in regard to the facilities which they have for borrowing and their needs. That is why I referred to the importance of holding the meeting with the Standing Committee.

8.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will take steps to remove the present restrictions on local authorities that they may not borrow money for periods of less than seven years, and return to them their pre-war right to negotiate short-term loans.

Does not the Chancellor think that the time is now appropriate to reconsider the matter? If he will not consider removing the restriction in relation to the seven-year period, will he at an early date consider reducing the period to three years or even five years?

The hon. Member asked me a Question on this subject on 19th May, 1953. I am sorry not to have a different opinion from the one I had then on this issue.

11.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what arrangements have been made to enable local authorities to borrow from the Public Works Loan Board for less than the full period of the Departmental sanction.

I have agreed in principle that the Public Works Loan Board should make loans for less than the full period of the Departmental sanction in all but certain types of case in which the making of such loans would increase the amount of annual grant payable by Government Departments. A meeting is being arranged at an early date between my officials and the Standing Committee of local authorities to make detailed arrangements. I cannot make a further statement until these discussions have been completed.

Is there any chance of these long discussions being brought to a conclusion? The matter has been dragging on for many months now. Will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that, if local authorities could borrow from the Public Works Loan Board for less than the 60-year period, it would save anything from 3s. to 4s. per week per local-authority dwelling?

We actually proposed a meeting of this Standing Committee a little while ago at the end of last year, and it was then suggested that we should defer it until some other matters came up which could be settled at the same time. That is why another meeting is foreshadowed, after which I hope to be able to say more.