HC Deb 04 March 1952 vol 497 c206
49. Miss Burton

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he is aware of the widespread feeling against the high duties charged on presents from Her Majesty's Forces overseas to their families at home; and if he will look into the matter.

Mr. R. A. Butler

There is a standing concession which enables Service men to send home presents to their families free of Customs charges, but it excludes tobacco, scent and liquor and is subject to a value limit of 10s. Under this concession, which has received much publicity in the Services, large numbers of presents are passed without charge. I am afraid that it would not be possible, without risk of abuse, to exempt more expensive presents, or articles such as cigarettes and pipe tobacco which can be bought much more cheaply overseas than at home.

Miss Burton

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that I am not referring to tobacco, scent or liquor? Might I ask him if he is aware that the mother of one of the Gloucesters recently had to pay 26s. 6d. for a table centre which had cost 8s. 6d.? Would he not agree it would cost very little to reduce these charges which are a constant source of irritation to the men's families at home?

Mr. Butler

Since the hon. Lady put the Question down, I have examined the whole matter. It appears to me that a great deal comes in through this concession. The concession applies only to one mail, and I really think we cannot extend it at the present time. If the hon. Lady is concerned about a particular case, I will look into it.