HC Deb 27 March 1956 vol 550 cc1943-4
5. Mr. G. Thomas

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware of the discontent among soldiers serving in Cyprus due to the high charges for essentials and for luxuries in the Navy, Army and Air Force Institutes; and what steps he has taken.

10. Mrs. L. Jeger

asked the Secretary of State for War what complaints he has received about Navy, Army and Air Force Institutes' prices to British troops in Cyprus; and what action he now proposes to take.

Mr. Head

During the last six months only two complaints have come to my notice. Some items, particularly chocolate and sweets, are dearer in Cyprus than at home because of freight charges and a 40 per cent. import duty, but others are much cheaper. A local overseas allowance is paid to compensate for higher prices.

Mr. Thomas

Is the Minister not aware that there has been considerable publicity in the Press to the effect that our troops are dissatisfied over this matter? Can he give a categorical assurance that these allegations are baseless, and that the troops are quite satisfied with present charges?

Mr. Head

I know the British Army well enough to know that it always complains about N.A.A.F.I. prices. I also saw the article, which I think was in the News Chronicle. It said that a bar of chocolate, which I call a slab, costs 11d., and a bottle of beer 1s., but it omitted to say that it was a quart bottle and that cigarettes cost 1s. for twenty. I admit that certain prices are higher in Cyprus because of local import duties, but the local overseas allowance is worked out to cover those charges.