HC Deb 20 March 1879 vol 244 cc1308-9

asked Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer, Whether the Public Works Loan Commissioners are already enforcing the conditions of Clause 4 of the Public Works Loans Bill before that Bill has been read a second time; and, if this course has been taken, whether he will give instructions that the system adopted by the Commissioners during the last ten years, in fixing the method of repayment of Public Loans, shall not be changed until after this House has had an opportunity of discussing the principles of the Bill and expressing an opinion upon it; also, whether he could give any information as to the probable time when the second reading of the Bill would be taken?


Sir, with regard to the last part of the Question, I am afraid I am not at present in a position to fix a day for the second reading of the Bill. Having regard to the state of Business, I think it would be inconvenient to make it a first Order; but I am trying to get as early a day as I can for the discussion of the Bill. With regard to the other part of the hon. Gentleman's Question, I may state that the 4th clause is that which prescribes that in future loans shall be always repaid by instalments, and not by means of annuities, including both principal and interest. But, though that clause would make the practice compulsory, it is now competent for the Public Works Loan Commissioners to require repayment in that way. In point of fact, they have always had that power, and they have very largely exercised it in some instances. I am informed by them that there has been no variation in that practice since the Public Works Loans Bill was framed and introduced, except in one particular in the case of the Labourers' Dwellings Act of 1866. That, of course, is not the Artizans' Dwellings Act of 1875. That one case of variation has been made with the sanction of the Treasury. It was entirely within the power of the Public Works Loan Commissioners and the Treasury to make that arrangement; and it is not effected under Clause 4 of the Public Works Loans Bill now before the House.