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Foreign Travel Allowances

Volume 530: debated on Tuesday 13 July 1954

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15.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer the main classes of travellers who expended £5 million in the dollar area last year; and how much was expended by each class.

The main classes were businessmen, private persons travelling for health or family reasons, officials, students and delegates to conferences. About £3½ million was authorised last year in respect of businessmen. No comparable figures are available for the other classes.

If we can afford, as I am glad to hear that we can, £5 million under the benign administration of the Chancellor for certain people belonging to the privileged classes which are growing up in this country to visit America, cannot he spare something for ordinary travellers to see our most important ally?

I am aware of the importance of this matter. We shall have to wait and see.

How much of this £5 million was expended by the dockers of this country?

Perhaps the hon. Member will send me such information as is in his possession.

18.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer the total amounts of francs issued for the use of British visitors to France during the last 12 months to the most recent convenient date; how much of this was basic allowance; and amongst how many applicants the balance was shared.

Allocations for travel in France by U.K. residents in the year to 31st may, 1954, totalled about £14 million. Of this total, about £8 million represented basic allowance; about £2 million other allotments and about £4 million settlements by travel agents, etc., cover both basic and other allotments. The number of applications in respect of which the £2 million currency for travel other than basic allotments was issued is 45,000.

Is the Chancellor aware of the knowledge possessed by everybody now that these regulations are substantially ignored—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."]—particularly by a large proportion of the people who spend holidays on the Riviera for very long periods of the year? Is the right hon. Gentleman not also aware that the most expensive hotels in Nice and Antibes are full of British visitors living there on £5 or £10 a night? Does he not think the time has come to relax the restrictions on the smaller man, who very often has to save for three or four years before he takes a holiday abroad?

I am aware of the anxiety about the travel allowance, and that it is widely held. I can give no further answer today except to remind the hon. Member that there is very close supervision in the matter and that the eyes of the authorities are probably more acute than some hon. Members may realise.

19.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer the present arrangement for the furnishing of foreign currency to yacht owners going abroad; whether it is now permissible for the currency for yacht owner, captain and crew to be issued collectively; and what additional allowances are provided in respect of cost of fuel in the case of steam yachts.

There is no special arrangement. Yacht owner, captain and crew must apply individually for their basic travel allowance, but there is no objection to the pooling of these allowances provided the foreign currency collected from each person is utilised for his direct benefit. The allowance of £25 given to travellers taking their cars abroad is also given to yacht owners in respect of the cost of fuel.

Are the eyes of benign authority kept on the number of yachts on the Mediterranean, sailing under British flags at the present time?

As recent evidence has shown a very close watch is kept, and will be kept.

20.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer to what extent British citizens possessing British passports who are not liable to the payment of British taxes because of the period of their residence abroad are eligible for the issue of foreign currency.

Although residence abroad for the purpose of taxation does not necessarily involve residence abroad for the purpose of exchange control, British citizens living abroad and exempt from taxes are rarely eligible for the issue of foreign currency.

If the hon. Member will put that question down I will attempt to give him a longer answer.

Had the hon. Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Hale) any of these difficulties when he lately went to the South of France?

Is the Chancellor aware that my wife and I went without lunch day by day, stayed in village hotels, had a very good time and hope to do the same next year?

I have no doubt that he had a better time than if he had stayed at some of the posh hotels.