HC Deb 04 December 1946 vol 431 cc416-31
Mr. H. Strauss

I beg to move, in page 4, line 41, at the end, to add: Provided also that nothing in this section shall prohibit or be deemed to prohibit the doing of any of the things specified in paragraphs (a) to (c) of this section where the person resident outside the scheduled territories is in the United Kingdom at the time when any such thing is done and the payment or credit is intended for use in the United Kingdom. This Amendment is to deal with an absurd result of the Clause as it stands, to which I drew attention on the Second Reading. I will repeat the case I put, that of an American visitor and his wife. Imagine such a visitor at breakfast in his hotel in London and his wife informing him that she intends to spend the morning shopping and will be out for lunch. He wishes to give her some money, which he lawfully has, for that purpose. He gives it to her and instantly commits an offence under Clause 5. I gather from the Chancellor of the Exchequer that he may have had these powers for a long time but that nobody has been sufficiently idiotic to prosecute a person in such circumstances. I am certain that he does not intend to do so. But it is unfortunate that a visitor doing this innocent thing will make himself liable under our criminal law.

7.30 p.m.

I am certain that this sort of transaction cannot be dealt with simply by treating it as coming under the maxim de minimis. It may be said, the Government will deal with it by a general exemption. I do not think that is a very satisfactory way because a foreign visitor, and especially an unfriendly critic from a foreign country, will very often not look at the regulations but will look at an Act of Parliament. I do not think such terrors should be held over the foreign tourist even as a possibility. It is to remedy this absurd result that I have attempted, whether successfully or not, to draft the Amendment. I do not know whether my Amendment is the most apt for the purpose I have in mind, but I am perfectly certain that the Chancellor of the Exchequer will wish to do something about this Clause, in order to make it clear that the really absurd results flowing from the Clause as it stands are not intended, and that a foreign visitor can hand over a sum of money to his wife in this country without committing a serious criminal offence.

Mr. Dalton

I think I can assure the hon. and learned Gentleman that the foreign visitor, with whom he was primarily concerned, coming here on holiday or on business, will not find that this Bill, which we are proposing to transform into an Act, will make his life in any way more difficult than it is now, because it is our intention to repeat without substantial change, so far as this class of case is concerned, the exemption order in Clause 31, which will substantially reproduce the corresponding order now operating under the Defence Finance Regulations. I think that anybody who has been following the operation of that will agree that it has quite effectively cleared all this class of case. It is not merely—and I want to emphasise this— that we would not take notice of the American citizen handing money to his wife for her shopping; the position is not that such things are against the law but we turn a blind eye to them; that is not the position. Under the Order, they will no longer be acting against the law, and will not be liable.

Mr. J. Foster

Could the Chancellor give the reference?

Mr. Dalton

My hon. and learned Friend will get it for the hon. Gentleman. I have the substance of the order here, but not its actual number. Now with regard to the non-resident, which was the case raised by the hon. and learned Gentleman. I now have the number of the Order, it is No. 1383 of 1946, S.R. and O. We shall provide, as is provided by the order already, that he can spend freely any sterling notes and any cash of which he is lawfully in possession. There will be no limit on him there whether he imported them or cashed a cheque here or exchanged foreign currency or gold with an authorised dealer in order to get sterling. We are, of course, very much seized of the desirability, for obvious reasons, of promoting visits to and travel in this country by people outside, whether from the Empire or from the United States or from other foreign countries. We shall certainly draw this exemption order with that very much in front of our minds, and will do everything in our power to ease the path and the transactions of visitors.

I was asked by the hon. Member for Northwich (Mr. J. Foster)—and an undertaking was given on my behalf—to make at some stage in the Debate a fairly full statement of the contents of the exemption order. I doubt whether this is the most convenient moment, but I under take to do it. That is why I do not pur- sue the point further now, having dealt with the point particularly raised by the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the Combined English Universities (Mr. H. Strauss). It may come conveniently on Clause 31. As to that, I will take advice, and at some stage I will make a fuller statement than I have just made of what we shall put into the exemption order, but we shall not make any substantial or striking changes, so far as this order is concerned from that which is operating now. I hope that being so, that this Amendment will not be pressed.

Mr. Maude (Exeter)

With great respect to the right hon. Gentleman, I submit that that is unsatisfactory, for the simple reason that the words chosen by my hon. and learned Friend seem to be words that would obviously be for all time so far as the Act is concerned. There could not be any reason of flexibility, a reason which the Solicitor-General has given on various occasions. Surely the right hon. Gentleman would agree that these words are suitable and sensible words? I feel strongly on that, for as we have sat here month after month, again and again powers have been taken that are too wide and are not needed, and again and again it has been said, "We will put it all right in an order." What is the right hon. Gentleman doing? He is building up a great mass of legislation which eventually will be handed over to some other Government, and it means endless watching here and there to see whether orders are too wide or not, and so on. I hope very much, therefore, that in this case it will be deemed wise to put in those words and have done with it, and so get better permanent legislation in this Bill, instead of having to scratch about like a hen in one of these wretched orders.

Mr. Stanley

I would like an opportunity of saying a word on this Amendment because I agree very much with what has just been said by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Exeter (Mr. Maude). In replying to this Amendment the Chancellor of the Exchequer was most reasonable; he could not have been more reasonable from a practical point of view. He said that there would be an order which in fact would give the whole substance of this Amendment. In those circumstances one asks, why is it not possible to put in the Bill—which, after all for centuries has been the normal place in which we legislate in this country —what he now tells us he will put in the order? We recognise that there are some cases where we have pressed for something to be included in the legislation where the quite reasonable answer given is, "Well, this is a thing which may have to be altered from time to time, and because of that it is not convenient that it should be put in a permanent piece of legislation." The Chancellor did not give that reason on this point, and I do not think he could give it, because it is quite clear that no sensible man and no sensible Chancellor would ever have the intention of altering the particular bit of the order about which he is speaking. It is, therefore, a permanent bit of legislation, but instead of a permanent bit of legislation embodied in the Bill, we are told it will be a permanent bit of legislation which subsequently will be done by order.

It seems to me that this is a quite unnecessary extension of this new practice of legislating by order and not by Bill. A Government which has been so guilty during the last year of the largely unnecessary use of that new method ought to jump at this opportunity of legislating in a more orthodox and correct way, on an occasion when it cannot possibly in any way interfere with the purposes of the Bill. If the Chancellor, or the Solicitor-General who I see straining at the leash, were able to tell us that there were possibilities that the Order might be varied, and that there might be occasions when it might be desirable that my hon. and learned Friend's American, sitting over his not very appetising breakfast, should not hand £2 to his wife to buy something not worth £2; if that could be explained to us, we should consider it. Unless something can be given us to show that what is proposed to be done in the order is something less than permanent, we demand that permanent legislation should be put where it has always been put up till now, and that is in a Statute where everybody can read it and see it, and not in one of the 1,383 and more orders which have been made in this one year.

Question put, "That those words be there added."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 102; Noes, 298.

Division No. 22.] AYES. [7.42 p.m.
Amory, D. Heathcoat Grant, Lady O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir H.
Astor, Hon. M. Grimston, R. V. Pickthorn, K.
Birch, Nigel Hare, Hon. J. H. (Woodbridge) Ponsonby, Col. C. E.
Boothby, R. Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir C. Poole, O. B. S. (Oswestry)
Bower, N. Henderson, John (Cathcart) Prior-Palmer, Brig. O.
Boyd-Carpenter, J. A. Howard, Hon. A. Ramsay, Maj. S.
Bracken, Rt. Hon. Brendan Hurd, A. Rayner, Brig. R.
Braithwaite, Lt.-Comdr. J. G. Hutchison, Col. J. R. (Glasgow, C.) Reid, Rt. Hon. J. S. C. (Hillhead)
Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W. Jennings, R. Ropner, Col. L.
Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T. Joynson-Hicks, Lt.-Cdr. Hon. L. W. Ross, Sir R.
Butler, Rt. Hon. R. A. (S'ffr'n W'ld'n) Keeling, E. H. Sanderson, Sir F.
Carson, E. Kerr, Sir J. Graham Savory, Prof. D. L.
Churchill, Rt. Hon. W. S. Lindsay, M. (Solihull) Scott, Lord W.
Clarke, Col. R. S. Linstead, H. N. Shephard, S. (Newark)
Clifton-Brown, Lt.-Col. G. Lloyd, Maj. Guy (Renfrew, E.) Shepherd, W. S. (Bucklow)
Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E. Lloyd, Selwyn (Wirral) Smiles, Lt.-Col. Sir W.
Cuthbert, W. N. Lucas, Major Sir J. Snadden, W. M.
Davidson, Viscountess Lucas-Tooth, Sir H. Spence, H. R.
De la Bère, R. McCallum, Maj. D. Stanley, Rt. Hon. O.
Digby, S. W. Mackeson, Brig. H. R. Strauss, H. G. (English Universities)
Dodds-Parker, A. D. Maclean, Brig F. H. R. (Lancaster) Stuart, Rt. Hon. J. (Moray)
Drayson, G. B. Macmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold (Bromley) Sutcliffe, H.
Drewe, C. Maitland, Comdr. J. W. Thornton-Kemsley, C. N.
Dugdale, Maj. Sir T. (Richmond) Marlowe, A. A. H. Touche, G. C.
Duncan, Rt. Hon. Sir A. (City of Lond.) Marples, A. E. Walker-Smith, D.
Duthie, W. S. Marshall, D. (Bodmin) Wheatley, Colonel M. J.
Eccles, D. M. Marshall, S. H. (Sutton) White, Sir D. (Fareham)
Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E. Maude, J. C. Williams, C. (Torquay)
Fleming, Sqn.-Ldr. E. L. Mellor, Sir J. Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)
Fletcher, W. (Bury) Moore, Lt.-Col. Sir T. Willoughby de Eresby, Lord
Foster, J. G. (Northwich) Morrison, Maj. J. G. (Salisbury) Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Fyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir D. P. M. Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S. (Cirencester) Young, Sir A. S. L. (Partick)
Gage, C. Mott-Radclyffe, Maj. C. E.
Galbraith, Cmdr. T. D. Neven-Spence, Sir B. TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Gammans, L. D. Nicholson, G. Commander Agnew and Major Conant.
Adams, Richard (Balham) Cluse, W. S. George, Lady M. Lloyd (Anglesey)
Allen, Scholefield (Crewe) Cobb, F. A. Gibbins, J.
Allighan, Garry Cooks, F. S. Gibson, C. W.
Alpass, J. H. Collins, V. J. Gilzean, A.
Anderson, F. (Whitehaven) Colman, Miss G. M. Glanville, J. E. (Consett)
Attewell, H. C. Comyns, Dr. L. Goodrich, H. E.
Austin, H. L. Cooper, Wing-Comdr. G. Gordon-Walker, P. C.
Awbery, S. S. Corlett, Dr. J. Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Wakefield)
Ayles, W. H. Crawley, A. Greenwood, A. W. J. (Heywood)
Ayrton Gould, Mrs. B. Crossman, R. H. S. Grenfell, D. R.
Bacon, Miss A. Daggar, G. Grey, C. F.
Baird, J. Dalton, Rt. Hon. H. Grierson, E.
Balfour, A. Davies, Edward (Burslem) Griffiths, D. (Rother Valley)
Barnes, Rt. Hon. A. J. Davies Ernest (Enfield) Griffiths, Rt. Hon. J. (Llanelly)
Barstow, P. G. Davies, Hadyn (St. Pancras, S. W.) Gruffyd, Prof. W. J.
Barton, C. Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton) Gunter, R. J.
Bechervaise, A. E. Davies, S. O. (Merthyr) Guy, W. H.
Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J. Deer, G. Haire, John E. (Wycombe)
Benson, G. Delargy, Captain H. J. Hale, Leslie
Berry, H. Diamond, J. Hall, W. G.
Binns, J. Dobbie, W. Hamilton, Lieut.-Col. R.
Blackburn, A. R. Driberg, T. E. N. Hannan, W. (Maryhill)
Blenkinsop, A. Dugdale, J. (W. Bromwich) Hardy, E. A.
Blyton, W. R. Dumpleton, C. W. Harrison, J.
Boardman, H. Durbin, E. F. M. Hastings, Dr. Somerville
Bowden, Flg.-Offr, H. W. Dye, S. Henderson, A. (Kingswinford)
Bowen, R. Edelman, M. Henderson, Joseph (Ardwick)
Bowles, F. G. (Nuneaton) Edwards, A. (Middlesbrough, E.) Herbison, Miss M.
Braddock, T. (Mitcham) Edwards, Rt. Hon. Sir C. (Bedwellty) Hewitson, Capt. M.
Bramall, Major E. A. Edwards, John (Blackburn) Hicks, G.
Brook, D. (Halifax) Edwards, N. (Caerphilly) Hobson, C. R.
Brooks, T. J. (Rothwell) Edwards, W. J. (Whitechapel) Holman, P.
Brown, T. J. (Ince) Evans, E. (Lowestoft) Holmes, H. E. (Hemsworth)
Brown, W. J. (Rugby) Evans, S. N. (Wednesbury) House, G.
Bruce, Maj. D. W. T. Ewart, R. Hoy, J.
Burke, W. A. Fairhurst, F. Hudson, J. H. (Ealing, W.)
Butler, H. W. (Hackney, S.) Farthing, W. J. Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)
Callaghan, James Field, Captain W. J. Hutchinson, H. L. (Rusholme)
Carmichael, James Follick, M. Hynd, H. (Hackney, C.)
Castle, Mrs. B. A. Fraser, T. (Hamilton) Hynd, Rt. Hon. J. B. (Attercliffe)
Champion, A. J. Freeman, Peter (Newport) Irving, W. J.
Chater, D. Gaitskell, H. T. N. Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A.
Chetwynd, G. R. Gallacher, W. Jay, D. P. T.
Clitherow, Dr. R. Ganlay, Mrs. C. S. Jeger, G. (Winchester)
John, W. Neal, H. (Claycross) Sparks, J. A.
Jonas, D. T. (Hartlepools) Nichol, Mrs. M. E. (Bradford, N.) Stamford, W.
Jones, J. H. (Bolton) Nicholls, H. R. (Stratford) Steele, T.
Jones, P. Asterley (Hitchin) Noel-Baker, Capt. F. E. (Brentford) Stephen, C.
Keenan, W. Noel-Buxton, Lady Stewart, Capt. Michael (Fulham, E)
Kenyon, C. O'Brien, T. Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, N)
Key, C. W. Oldfield, W. H. Stubbs, A. E.
King, E. M. Oliver, G. H. Taylor, H. B. (Mansfield)
Kinghorn, Sqn.-Ldr. E. Paling, Rt. Hon. Wilfred (Wentworth) Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)
Kinley, J. Palmer, A. M. F. Taylor, Dr. S. (Barnet)
Kirby, B. V. Pargiter, G. A. Thomas, I. O. (Wrekin)
Kirkwood, D. Parkin, B. T. Thomas, John R. (Dover)
Lawson, Rt. Hon. J. J. Paton, Mrs. F. (Rushcliffe) Thomson, Rt. Hn. G. R. (Ed'b'gh, E.)
Lee, F. (Hulme) Paton, J. (Norwich) Thorneycroft, Harry (Clayton)
Lee, Miss J. (Cannock) Pearson, A. Thurtle, E.
Leslie, J. R. Peart, Capt. T. F. Tiffany, S
Levy, B. W. Perrins, W. Tolley, L.
Lewis, T. (Southampton) Piratin, P. Tomlinson, Rt. Hon. G.
Lindgren, G. S. Platts-Mills, J. F. F. Turner-Samuels, M.
Lipson, D. L. Popplewell, E. Ungoed-Thomas, L.
Lipton Lt.-Col. M. Porter, E. (Warrington) Usborne, Henry
Logan, D.G. Porter, G. (Leeds) Vernon, Maj. W. F.
Longden, F. Pritt, D.N. Viant, S. P.
Lyne, A. W. Proctor, W. T. Wadsworth, G.
McAdam, W. Pursey, Cmdr. H. Walkden, E.
McAllister, G. Randall, H. E. Walker, G. H.
McGhee, H. G. Ranger, J. Wallace, G. D. (Chislehurst)
Mack, J.D. Rankin, J. Wallace, H. W. (Walthamstow, E.)
McKay, J. (Wallsend) Rees-Williams, D. R. Warbey, W. N.
Mackay, R. W. G. (Hull, N.W.) Reeves, J. Watkins, T. E.
McLeavy, F. Reid, T. (Swindon) Watson, W. M.
MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles) Rhodes, H. Webb, M. (Bradford, C.)
Macpherson, T. (Romford) Richards, R. Wells, W. T. (Walsall)
Mainwaring, W. H. Ridealgh, Mrs. M. Westwood, Rt. Hon. J.
Mallalieu, J. P. W. Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire) White, H. (Derbyshire, N.E.)
Mann, Mrs. J. Rogers, G. H. R. Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.
Manning, Mrs. L. (Epping) Royle, C. Wigg, Col. G. E.
Marquand, H. A. Scollan, T Wilcock, Group-Capt. C. A. B.
Marshall, F. (Brightside) Scott-Elliot, W. Wilkins, W. A.
Mathers, G. Segal, Dr. S. Willey, F. T. (Sunderland)
Mayhew, C. P. Shackleton, Wing-Cdr. E. A. A. Willey, O. G. (Cleveland)
Medland, H. M. Sharp, Granville Williams, D. J. (Neath)
Mellish, R. J. Shawcross, C. N. (Widnes) Williams, J. L. (Kelvingrove)
Messer, F. Shurmer, P. Williams, W. R. (Heston)
Middleton, Mrs. L. Silkin, Rt. Hon. L. Williamson, T.
Mikardo, Ian Silverman, J. (Erdington) Willis, E.
Millington, Wing-Comdr. E. R. Silverman, S. S. (Nelson) Wills, Mrs. E. A.
Mitchison, Maj. G. R. Simmons, C. J. Wise, Major F. J.
Monslow, W. Skeffington-Lodge, T. C. Wyatt, W.
Montague, F. Skinnard, F.W. Yates, V. F.
Moody, A. S. Smith, Ellis (Stoke) Young, Sir R. (Newton)
Morgan, Dr. H. B. Smith, H.N. (Nottingham, S.) Zilliacus, K.
Morris, P. (Swansea, W.) Smith, S. H. (Hull, S.W.)
Moyle, A. Snow, Capt, J.W. TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Murray, J. D. Solley, L. J. Mr. Collindridge and
Nally, W. Sorensen, R. W. Mr. Coldrick.
Naylor, T. E. Soskice, Maj. Sir F.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."

Mr. Eccles

Clause 5 raises the whole question of the liberty with which people are allowed to make payments in the United Kingdom. The Clause begins: Except with the permission of the Treasury. certain things cannot be done. It is of great interest to us to know whether the Treasury is going to exercise its discretion as heretofore. We are very anxious to know whether there is going to be any tightening up. I would like to direct the Chancellor's attention to the fact that, although on the whole the Bank of England work these things very well—and I am the first to pay my tribute to them— there are some cases in which we think a little more latitude would be in the interests of the country. As the Chancellor is going to make a wartime arrangement permanent—which we do not think is a good thing—we want to be sure that there will be reasonable latitude.

The sort of case I have in mind is this. We are allowed to make payments for films coming into this country. A very large sum of money is represented. But, when we look at the art business—and I take a great interest in the art business—we find that extraordinarily cramping restrictions are imposed. I thought it was the Board of Trade who refused import licences. But I noticed that when the Board of Trade refused an import licence to the President of the American Society of Painters, Etchers and Engravers, Mr. John Taylor Arms, to send a few of his etchings here to an exhibition—and he is, so to speak, the senior man in the engraving world in America—they said, "We cannot give you this licence because the Treasury tell us that our balance of payment does not permit it." That is really an insult to an American artist. He is told that he cannot send a few prints which he would sell at eight or ten guineas each. At the same time, he knows that Hollywood films are admitted, and that British artists are welcomed when they exhibit in America. This is a small point, but, because we know he takes an interest in art, we expect from the Chancellor a more generous working of this Clause than we have had hitherto. I want to ask him for an assurance that he will look into these things, and try to see that the Clause is not operated in such a way as to prevent foreign artists from occasionally sending a picture to be exhibited and sold in this country.

Mr. J. Foster

I would like to ask the Chancellor, having now studied the Exemption Order, 1383, 1946, S.R.O., exactly how it answers the question put by my hon. and learned Friend the junior Member for the Combined English Universities (Mr. H. Strauss). As I read the order, it seems to refer to payment by one person to another. I do not know whether the Chancellor agrees with that, but that was my recollection of it. I am not sure whether it would cover the payment of an American to his wife. I would be very grateful if the right hon. Gentleman would state exactly how the Order covers that payment.

With regard to Clause 5, paragraph (b), am I right in thinking that that prohibits any person in this country from making any payment to a person who is resident outside the scheduled territories, but present in the United Kingdom? As I understand it, it means that nobody can make any payment of any kind to a foreigner who is a traveller, or tourist, in this country. If the answer is that it is covered by the Exemption Order, 1383, 1946, S.R.O., I will be obliged if the right hon. Gentleman will say so. As I understand the Clause, it prohibits anyone giving any change to a resident outside the United Kingdom, and means that a shopkeeper cannot give 10s. change until the tourist has bought an article for 10s., and paid a pound note. It also prohibits a person making any payment to a person resident outside the scheduled territory, but present in the United Kingdom, for any service he may have rendered. He may be engaged in some quite lawful business in this country on which he pays Income Tax, but, because he is a person resident outside the United Kingdom, the person inside the United Kingdom is not allowed to make him any payment at all. I understand that that is the advice given by lawyers to persons who seek to make payments to non-residents who happen to be in this country and that, strictly speaking, all such payments are illegal, but that in practice the Treasury does not go after such payments as I have mentioned. As this Measure is an opportunity which is being taken by the Government for codifying the law, making it a little clearer, if possible, and embodying principles of law, I think it is not sufficient for the Chancellor of the Exchequer to say, as I anticipate he may say, that the exemption will be granted by the Treasury, partly contained in these Orders in Council, and partly contained, as he attempted to show, in the Memorandum which accompanied this Bill. In order that the position of persons in this country and travellers or business men can be ascertained, it should be stated in this Committee quite clearly how the Measure will work, and whether it is possible for the exemption to be inserted in the Act.

8.0 p.m.

The specific question I want to ask the Chancellor is, firstly, how Order 1383 of 1946 covers the case put to him by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for the Combined English Universities (Mr. H. Strauss); and secondly, am I right in thinking that Clause 5 (b) prohibits payment by anybody in the United Kingdom to a non-resident, unless specific Treasury permission has been granted? If that is so, will he state how, and in what form specific Treasury permission is granted to (a) a tourist and (b) a business man who comes to this country, and who in the course of his dealings engages in some transaction which may or may not attract tax—that, of course, depends on the Convention between the two countries. Some expression of the policy of the Govern- ment, and also some reason for not making it clearer in this Clause, would be of interest to the Committee.

Mr. Dalton

The points raised by the hon. Member for Chippenham (Mr. Eccles) were, I think, essentially two. He began by asking whether I would assure the Committee that we did not intend, with regard to this particular Clause and the orders made under it, to tighten the existing regulations. I can assure him on that. We do not intend to tighten the existing regulations as at present advised. I do not wish to conceal from the Committee that we are, as has been said repeatedly already, operating by way of a Bill of this type, because we are convinced that in the difficulties which confront this country we must have power to act swiftly from time to time, to deal with situations or devices which we may not at this moment be able clearly to foresee. I have endeavoured to explain that previously; I repeat it now. Subject to that general cautionary observation, I can assure the hon. Member for Chippenham that we have no present intention, in the light of our present knowledge of the technique of evasion, on the one hand, and of the needs of the country on the other, of tightening the present regulations.

The hon. Member went on to ask not merely that we should not tighten the regulations but that we should positively loosen them in several directions. He cited the case of an American artist who had been unable to get permission from the Board of Trade—he thought that the Board of Trade had been incite I by the Treasury—

Mr. Eccles

I did not say that.

Mr. Dalton

I do not know who said it, but it was said. Anyhow, the hon. Member said that the case was that of a United States artist who had not been able to get some of his paintings or etchings into this country. The hon. Member for Chippenham asked whether we could do something to deal with cases of that sort. In fact, he asked whether I would look into this and similar cases. Certainly, I will, but here again there is evidently a limit, and it may be a very close limit, to what we can allow to be brought into this country in so far as it may involve a demand for the expenditure of dollars. It would be easy to travel far afield, and compare popular taste in respect of Hollywood films and etchings by good artists. We might together, draw a number of gloomy and sad reflections from such a study, but that would be out of Order on this Clause. I undertake that if there are particular cases, such as this, if there is a distinguished American artist who has had a difficulty of this sort, and if the hon. Member would send me particulars of that case, I will certainly look into it and see whether, within the bounds of prudence, we can ease up. But we must not ease up too much.

It is the whole case behind the Bill, that we have to be very careful in regard to our foreign exchange resources. We cannot allow them to dribble away, this way or that, to please this person or that. It may often be necessary to say, "No." I know that the whole Committee understands that. Subject to that, I am certainly most anxious that people should not feel affronted, and that, having produced artistic work of high value, they are not able to have it shown in this country; one would regret that. Also, from the point of view of the inhabitants of this country, it is desirable, for our own sakes, that we should have as much as we can afford of works of art, books, or scientific writings or literary productions or anything else from other countries. That is true of a lot of things other than books. Within that general framework, I shall endeavour to meet the hon. Gentleman's case, and in particular, study the examples such as that which he will send me.

With regard to the points raised by the hon. Member for Northwich (Mr. J. Foster), I think it would be tidier if, as I have already undertaken to do—and I think the Committee accepted it as a reasonable plan—instead of picking up questions as we proceed, I were to make a statement, which I will endeavour to make as full and clear as I can, of the content of the exemption order which we shall issue in replacement of the Order which the hon. Member now has in his hand. He has not had it in his hand for long, because he and I were walking into the House together a little while ago, and he and I had not then recently read it. No doubt we had both already read it some time ago, and had forgotten a good deal of it. It would not be useful for me to give snap answers to questions. Instead, when we reach Clause 31, I will make a detailed statement on the content of the Order which will pick up not only' this Clause, but also what we will do with regard to certain other Clauses, which will equally be covered by the Order which we propose to make. If the hon. Member will not think me evasive or discourteous, I suggest that it would be much more convenient to the Committee to pursue that course.

Mr. J. Foster

The Chancellor of the Exchequer said he did not want to give a snap answer, but he has given one. It was that the instance given to him was covered by the Order. I am asking him, if that snap answer was wrong, to correct it, and if it was right, to say why it was right. What the right hon. Gentleman said is reasonable, and I welcome his statement. The first point I want to ask him is this. How does Order 1383 of 1946 cover a payment by an American husband or an American's wife at a breakfast table in their hotel on a nice sunny morning? Is it the case, as was put to the Chancellor by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for the Combined English Universities that under Clause 5 (a), an American sitting in his hotel, who hands his wife £10 with which to shop, is committing an offence, unless he has the permission of the Treasury? As I understood the snap answer, it was, "No." If the Order means that, I do not at the moment see the point.

Mr. Dalton

What I said, or what I intended to say, was that it is our intention to provide in the new Order that non-residents shall be able to spend freely in this country any sterling notes and cash. We will secure by the Order that he shall be free to spend in this country any sterling notes and cash, and to cash cheques here, whether it comes through the cashing of cheques or the exchange of gold with an authorised dealer, and so on. It is my information from my advisers that all these exemptions are operating now. I have not a copy of the Order in my hand; the hon. Gentleman has. Before I make the statement which I promised to make on Clause 31, I will check up on whether it is under that particular Order and, if so, under what section of it, or whether it is under some other Order. However, that is the effective Order which covers, if not the whole ground, the major part of it. Practically all we are seeking to continue is in that Order. Other Orders have been made from time to time, but I think it will be more convenient that we should tidy the thing up in the way I have suggested. Though I do not think that anything I have said tonight is incorrect, if it is wrong, a correction will be made frankly when we come to the later occasion.

Mr. Stanley

I think all hon. Members welcome the Chancellor's suggestion that, at some stage, he should make a comprehensive statement.

Mr. Dalton

I will make it on Clause 31.

Mr. Stanley

That is the point. Clause 31 is very late in the Bill and the trouble is that between then and now, there will be numerous occasions, when the Chancellor will say, "When we come to Clause 31 I shall be dealing with that." Naturally, we want him to make the statement not only when it is most convenient for him, but when it meets with, the approval of the Chair. If he could take an earlier opportunity of making that statement, I am sure it would make the discussion easier. It would be much easier to discuss this Clause after the statement has been made, and when we know what is in it, otherwise we shall be told that some point we raise is to be covered by the statement later. If the right hon. Gentleman could think of an earlier opportunity of making a statement, it would be useful.

Mr. Dalton

I shall be glad to think about it but it is largely a question of the logical place at which to make it and the place at which it would be in Order to make it. I thought it was quite clear that it would be in Order on Clause 31. I think that also would be your view, Mr. Beaumont. I shall be very glad to look into the possibility of whether it would be equally in Order to make so wide a statement at any other point. Perhaps, Sir, we might consult you or Major Milner beforehand on the question of where such a statement may be made. If it is convenient to leave it in this way, I will do my best to meet the wishes of the Committee.

Mr. Jennings

The Chancellor's statement will affect many substantial industries such as iron and steel in Sheffield and shipbuilding, in connection with which people come to this country to spend money. I suggest that he might consult the President of the Board of Trade and the Minister of Supply to see the sort of transactions upon which money is spent in this country by people resident outside, to our advantage from a trading point of view. I am anxious that no restrictions here should stop the expansion of trade, and I beg the Chancellor to have a word with his colleagues to see that no restriction and inconvenience, harmful from a trading point of view, will be caused to these people.

Mr. Dalton

I will look into that.

Question put, and agreed to.

Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.