HC Deb 25 March 1948 vol 448 cc3348-50
82 Sir Jocelyn Lucas

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power (I) if his attention has been called to the poster "Come to Britain for Motoring" issued by the Travel Association; and if he will publicise the facilities available for foreign or overseas visitors, both as to purchase of petrol and the use of hire-cars, and what restrictions are enforced;

(2) if his attention has been called to the Travel Association's poster "Come to Britain for Yachting"; if he will state the petrol allowance available for motor boats, boats with outboard motors, and motor yachts respectively; and whether special allowances are made for overseas visitors;

(3) if, in view of the Government-sponsored Travel Association's posters "Come to Britain" for motoring, yachting, etc., and to help the tourist industry generally, he will make petrol freely available to all overseas visitors who pay for this with dollars or other hard currencies; and whether he will issue special coupons for this purpose.

Mr. Rabens

I have not seen the posters to which the hon. Member refers. My right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade, in reply to a Question on 23rd March, has explained the facilities which are to be made available to overseas visitors who bring cars with them, or who purchase cars in this country for export. I regret to say that these facilities cannot be extended to foreign visitors who borrow cars or purchase second-hand cars in this country. My right hon. Friend also explained the special arrangements which are being made to enable overseas visitors to travel freely in hire cars. An allowance of petrol is granted for motor vessels which are let out on hire, and these will be available to overseas visitors if they wish to hire them.

Sir J. Lucas

Will the Minister bear in mind that these posters must have been printed a considerable time beforehand, and are now most misleading; and, in view of the importance of earning dollars, will he bear in mind that my suggestion is merely a sprat to catch, not merely a mackerel but a whale?

Mr. Robens

Yes, Sir, we are aware of those factors.

Mr. Seollan

What justification can the Minister find for not allowing an overseas visitor to have the use of a friend's car which is today laid up, and to get the necessary petrol? Obviously, these visitors constitute a great asset to the country if they come over.

Mr. Robens

That is perfectly true; but in these matters we must always take into consideration that abuse is so easy. [Hon. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] Oh, yes; and we must be quite certain that there is not any abuse.

Mr. Eccles

As a lot of foreign visitors are expected in the next two or three weeks, could the Minister allow them to have petrol coupons for use in hire cars before 1st May, which will miss the Easter traffic?

Mr. Robens

There is no need to do that. All the hire-cars and the taxi operators have their quota of petrol, which they can use for overseas visitors or anybody else.

Captain Crookshank

Can the hon. Gentleman say how it is that the Travel Association, which is supposed to be in very close touch with the Government, is able to issue posters which the hon. Member—who is, after all, in the Department chiefly concerned with petrol—says he has never seen?

Mr. Robens

They consult the Board of Trade.

Mr. Gallacher

Will the Minister tell us how visitors can travel through the Highlands, the most beautiful part of this country, unless they get the use of motor cars?

Mr. Robens

There is nothing to prevent overseas visitors from hiring cars, just as anybody else can do.