§ 33. Mr. Frank Allaun
asked the Minister of Aviation if Ferranti's have now repaid the £4 million excess profit on the Bloodhound missile contract; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Roy Jenkins
I would refer my hon. Friend to the statement I made in the House on 17th June last.
§ Mr. Allaun
Is the Minister aware that this Question was tabled before his statement last week? Even at the modest rate of 5 per cent. per annum, will not the firm enjoy no less than £670,000 in interest on the £2 million profit that it is due to repay by 1969? Even if there is no legal obligation, is not Mr. de Ferranti honour-bound to repay this sum to the taxpayer?
§ Mr. Jenkins
It is certainly the case that as the result of this very excessive profit Ferranti Ltd. has had the use of large sums of money—which it would not otherwise have had—building up its business interest-free for a number of years. However, when the sum of £4¼ million was agreed, before the change in the Administration, it was envisaged that there would be no interest, except on arrears.
§ Mr. Hamling
Is my right hon. Friend aware that this sum is microscopic compared to the "bunce" that the industry 1752 has received, as referred to in Question No. 23?
§ Sir C. Osborne
In view of the fact that the Government freely negotiated this settlement with the company and are satisfied with it, is it not time that hon. Members opposite stopped nagging on the subject?
§ Mr. Speaker
It is not part of the Ministers' responsibility to say when hon. Members should start refraining from doing something or the other.
§ Sir C. Osborne
Since this settlement has been arrived at freely by the Treasury and the tax officials, and is regarded as a satisfactory settlement of this problem, will not the right hon. Gentleman advise his hon. Friends to accept it?