§ Mr. Atkinson
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will list the nationalised industries and the amount of foreign currency they were each granted during the latest six months period for which information is available; and if he will give an aggregate net figure in respect of their overseas trade.
§ Mr. Robert Sheldon
Nationalised industries meet their needs for foreign currency by buying on the open market.
Their foreign currency borrowing is normally undertaken to finance their activities in the United Kingdom, and the proceeds are converted into sterling, either via the Exchange Equalisation Account, if the money has been borrowed under the Exchange Cover Scheme, or on the open market if they have borrowed uncovered. The amounts borrowed by nationalised industries and by the National Water Council in the second half of 1976 were:
$ equivalent at date of draw-down British Gas Corporation $15 million National Coal Board $244 million National Water Council $500 million Post Office $112 million British Rail $52 million Electricity Council $545 million South of Scotland Electricity Board $75 million British Steel Corporation $97 million
There are a number of problems involved in assessing the impact of nationalised industries on the balance of payments and the information requested concerning the overseas trade of nationalised industries is not readily available.418W
I understand that the National Economic Development Office, as part of its study of the United Kingdom nationalised industries, will shortly be publishing a background paper on their imports and exports, and this may be helpful to my hon. Friend.