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Blocked Sterling Balances

Volume 481: debated on Thursday 30 November 1950

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58.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what steps he has taken to inform British residents living in foreign countries that they can draw on their blocked funds for essential expenditure in the United Kingdom.

The principle is that exceptions to the blocking of capital are allowed in cases of hardship, that is, where the expenditure is essential and funds cannot be remitted from abroad. No special steps have been taken to publicise this arrangement, but anyone who feels that he is suffering hardship would normally consult his United Kingdom banker or broker who will be familiar with the procedure.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that British residents in Belgium did not know they could use blocked sterling funds for certain purposes until I forwarded an answer the hon. Gentleman gave me a few weeks ago? Does he not think that some method of publicising this should be adopted?

I will consider that, but one would have expected that anyone in that position would have consulted his banker.

59.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer for what purposes foreign citizens who hold blocked sterling funds in the United Kingdom are allowed to draw on them.

Normally, only for reinvestment in quoted sterling securities not maturing under 10 years from the date of purchase. In exceptional cases sympathetic consideration is given for the release of small amounts on grounds of hardship.

Would the hon. Gentleman consider allowing foreign residents who wish to have their children educated here to draw on those funds? Does he not consider that a good way of earning foreign exchange?

Will the hon. Gentleman consider extending these regulations to include the investment of those funds in private firms, and not necessarily in firms whose securities are quoted, as this would have the effect of increasing production?