HC Deb 14 November 1939 vol 353 cc529-31
60. Lieut.-Colonel Sir Thomas Moore

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he is able to make a statement regarding the despatch of duty-free cigarettes and tobacco to members of the Forces?

The Chancellor of the Exchequer (Sir John Simon)

I am glad to be able to have now been made. As the statement describing these arrangements is rather long, I will, with my hon. Friend's permission, arrange to have it circulated in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Sir T. Moore

May I take it then that the answer is in the affirmative?

Sir J. Simon

I hope my hon. Friend will find the answer very satisfactory.

Following is the statement:

As my right hon. and gallant Friend the Financial Secretary to the Treasury said in reply to a question by the hon. Member on 26th October, proposals made by interested traders to facilitate the despatch by post, free of duty, of small quantities of cigars, cigarettes and tobacco have been under consideration. I am glad to say that it has been found possible to reduce the limit of weight for packages of tobacco, cigars, or cigarettes which may be sent from a bonded warehouse by authorised post, from 2 lbs. to 4 ozs. This new limit of 4 ozs. will come into operation on Thursday, 23rd November. It represents roughly 100 cigarettes, though the exact figure would vary according to the brand of cigarette concerned.

The arrangement will apply to members of all three of His Majesty's Fighting Forces serving in France and to Naval personnel serving in His Majesty's seagoing ships in commission. As regards warships, I should explain that Naval personnel can already buy cigarettes and tobacco duty-free in messes and canteens when serving in most of His Majesty's ships, but there are certain categories of ships which do not enjoy this privilege, and the new arrangements cannot be applied to the Naval personnel serving in such ships. If duty-free parcels are sent to these ships, they will be returned to the manufacturer, who will inform the donor that they cannot be sent under these arrangements.

Those who wish to send a parcel under the scheme should give their order, with the requisite address, either to their tobacco retailer or direct to the manufacturer, who will pack, address, and post the parcel. My right hon. Friend, the Postmaster-General, has agreed to the use of the letter post for such packages, and in this connection I may mention that for packets not exceeding 8 ozs. in weight letter post is cheaper than parcel post.

I may add that parcels sent under these arrangements will be subject neither to French import restrictions nor to French Customs duty. I should like to take this opportunity to place on record the appreciation of His Majesty's Government for the French Government's generous action in this matter.