HC Deb 03 April 1951 vol 486 cc25-6
48. Brigadier Clarke

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what duty-free concession vouchers are given to troops in Korea to enable them to send home presents to their wives and families.

Mr. Gaitskell

Troops serving abroad are allowed to send home presents, other than tobacco, scent and liquor, to a value of 10s. free of Customs charges. In addition, gift parcels of food weighing not more than 22 lb. gross are admitted free.

Brigadier Clarke

Will the right hon. Gentleman say how often they can send a 10s. voucher, and does he appreciate that a 10s. voucher does not help the people at home when they have to pay a duty which is much greater than the value of the present?

Mr. Gaitskell

There is no restriction on the number of parcels that may be sent.

Mr. Bellenger

May I urge on my right hon. Friend that he should consider the system which operated very well in wartime of allowing troops on active operations to send home so many duty-free parcels, the value of which came to more than 10s. per parcel?

Mr. Gaitskell

I should be more ready to consider that, if I felt satisfied that there was any real dissatisfaction with the present arrangements.

Mr. Braine

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that a parcel recently sent from Korea, by a soldier to his mother, the value of which was 20s., attracted no less than 17s. 4d. in Customs Duty and Purchase Tax? Would it not be fair to extend to serving men overseas the generous concession which obtained during the war?

Mr. Gaitskell

I do not think there is anything I can add. Obviously, if a parcel is worth more than 10s., it will become liable to Customs duty, but I think it is very unusual for that kind of difficulty to arise.