HC Deb 29 July 1952 vol 504 cc1237-8
3. Driberg

asked the Secretary of State for War if, in order to save heavy postage on parcels, he will institute a scheme under which the Navy, Army and Air Force Institute will hold in this country a stock of goods of the kinds most commonly sent home by men serving in Korea, Malaya, and the Middle East, and will deliver them to addresses in this country when Service men order and pay for them at the Navy, Army and Air Force Institute's shops in those theatres.

Mr. Head

I doubt whether a scheme of this kind would be popular or justified, since I understand that the men overseas generally send home goods of local origin and prefer to choose themselves.

Mr. Driberg

Does the right hon. Gentleman recall that cases have frequently been raised in the House of parcels on which very heavy postage has to be paid, and sometimes also dues on delivery at home? This suggestion would get round that difficulty. Does the right hon. Gentleman recognise also that this is simply, in reverse, the scheme he has accepted from the hon. and gallant Member for Portsmouth, West (Brigadier Clarke)?

Mr. Head

I am aware that this is the scheme in reverse. I am quite prepared to ask commands if they think it is worth while. The difficulty is that N.A.A.F.I. would have to have available in this country a bulk store of curios from Korea, Malaya and Hong Kong.

Miss Burton

Would the right hon. Gentleman at the same time consult with the Chancellor to see if anything can be done about the very heavy duty that has to be paid on these parcels? It is a real source of embarrassment to their families.

Mr. Head

We have had a great deal of discussion with the Excise authorities on this particular subject, and I think we have done the best we possibly can, but I should be glad to discuss the matter with the hon. Lady. I can assure her that we have had long discussions about it.