Skip to main content

Customs Search, Dover

Volume 465: debated on Tuesday 17 May 1949

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer why Mr. F. Vanderzypen, a Belgian visiting the British Industries Fair, was separated from his British-born manager when the Ostend boat arrived at Dover on 2nd May, put into a room, required to undress and bodily searched; whether any money, valuables or dutiable goods were found upon him; whether any apology was offered to him for the indignity and inconvenience he had undergone; and whether he is aware that this procedure must discourage foreign purchasers from visiting the British Industries Fair.

Separation of British from non-British passengers is a routine process which expedites immigration control of passengers. Mr. Vanderzypen was searched by the Customs on suspicions which happily proved to be unfounded. The inconvenience caused him is much regretted and Mr. Vanderzypen was so informed at the time. As regards the last part of the Question, I am afraid that it would be impossible to grant immunity from Customs examination to business visitors to this country.

Has the right hon. Gentleman inquired as to what were the grounds of suspicion upon which the Customs officers acted?

Has the right hon. Gentleman satisfied himself that there was any sufficient reason to justify the action taken by the Customs officers?

The Customs officials have the right to search anyone on suspicion and that is a right which they exercise with great circumspection. We must leave it at that.

In view of the unsatisfactory nature of the reply, I beg to give notice that I shall raise the matter on the Adjournment at the earliest opportunity.