HC Deb 05 March 1940 vol 358 cc204-5
46. Mr. Loftus

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he is aware that the employment of the proceeds of British exports is subject to no control, and that the absence of such control enables ex-porters, if they so desire, to leave abroad the proceeds of exports; and whether he intends to take any steps to stop this loophole in exchange regulations and ensure that all British exports provide currency to pay for imports?

The Chancellor of the Exchequer (Sir John Simon)

A British exporter who acquires holdings in one of the specified currencies is bound, under the regulations, to offer such currency for sale to the Treasury forthwith, unless he has previously received permission to retain it. The specified currencies are:

  • American and Canadian dollars.
  • French, Belgian and Swiss francs.
  • Norwegian and Swedish crowns.
  • Argentine pesos.
  • Amsterdam and Java guilders.
I am glad to take this opportunity of reminding exporters of this obligation and to emphasise that failure to comply with it is an offence against the regulations and subjects the offender to the penalties provided for by the regulations.

Mr. Loftus

Is my hon. Friend aware that in important business and financial circles there is an opinion that there are loopholes, and will he make further inquiries?

Sir J. Simon

The matter is constantly studied. If there are loopholes in any sense, or if there is some class of case not covered by the regulations, we will endeavour to close them. If anybody has information about a case of evasion of the regulations, I shall be glad to hear of it and will certainly take action.

47. Mr. Loftus

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he is aware that, under existing arrangements, it is possible for British holders of sterling to sell their sterling in the unofficial markets abroad because in certain circumstances such transactions would only involve transfers from one inland account to another; and whether he proposes to take any steps to prevent the possibility of any such occurrences?

Sir J. Simon

The sale of sterling by a resident in the United Kingdom otherwise than through an authorised dealer is prohibited by the Defence (Finance) Regulations, and any such transaction renders the offender liable to the penalties provided for by them.

53. Mr. E. Smith

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he has given consideration to the need for introducing a comprehensive system of exchange control, and control of foreign trade and foreign exchange; and is it intended to take any action?

Sir J. Simon

The system of exchange control embodied in the Defence (Finance) Regulations, the purchase by the Ministries of Supply and Food of essential imports, the licensing of imports and exports, and the control over shipping exercised by the Ministry of Shipping, are administered as a comprehensive and co-ordinated direction of the economic activity of this country. In all these matters, action is being taken continuously as developments in the situation require.