HC Deb 28 March 1945 vol 409 cc1344-5
13. Captain Lonģhurst

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will make representations to the Egyptian Government to induce them to remit, in favour of His Majesty's Forces serving in Egypt, the recently imposed 100 per cent. import duty on spirits.

Mr. Eden

The question of such representations was considered by the Departments concerned at the time of the imposition of the increased duty, and it was decided that there were no good grounds for the action proposed by my hon. and gallant Friend. I regret that, after further consultation with those Departments, I do not feel able to re-open the question.

Captain Longhurst

Is my right hon. Friend aware that in view of the fact the Egyptians are several hundred million pounds up on us, I gather, as the result of the war, there is a certain degree of what I might call friendly resentment felt by the Forces at the imposition of this tax on what is one of the few consolations of service in that area? Would my right hon. Friend make representations that perhaps a little degree of lend-lease might not be inappropriate in this connection?

Mr. Eden

I fully understand my hon. and gallant Friend's sentiments. I share them to a large extent, but he will realise that this is a tax placed on luxury goods by the Egyptian Government. It is a lower tax than we place on luxury goods of a similar kind in this country, and I do not think my position about representations is a very strong one.

Mr. Astor

Does that mean that the Egyptian Government can put any tax they want on any article taken in by N.A.A.F.I. for the welfare of our troops?

Mr. Eden

It is not a question of N.A.A.F.I., but of the import of goods into Egypt. The Egyptian Government are independent and, of course, they can impose any tax they wish.

Captain Gammans

Are all Allied troops treated in the same way, or only British troops?

Mr. Eden

This is a duty placed on whisky going into the country. I understand that whisky is 22s. in Egypt, and gin £ 10s. 6d.