HC Deb 20 May 1957 vol 570 cc841-2
14. Mr. Hurd

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what action he is taking to ensure that British citizens resident in the United Kingdom who visit the United States of America have as easy facilities in the matter of passport visas and entry permits as United States citizens visiting the United Kingdom.

Mr. Ian Harvey

None, Sir. My right hon. and learned Friend does not consider that any useful purpose would be served by making representations to the United States Government on this subject. Since Her Majesty's Government abolished visas for United States citizens in 1948, the United States Government have abolished visa fees and progressively extended the validity of visas for United Kingdom citizens resident in the United Kingdom.

Mr. Hurd

Will my hon. Friend ask the Foreign Secretary to look at this again, because there is a good deal of feeling about it? There would be very wide support on this side of the Atlantic if the Foreign Secretary pressed for complete reciprocity between the United States and ourselves in the matter of passport conditions and visa charges. There is not complete reciprocity today.

Mr. Harvey

I appreciate the point that there is not complete reciprocity, but these matters are for the internal arrangements of the Governments themselves; and the adjustments made have to a large extent met many of the criticisms made up to now.

Mr. Crossman

Is it not a fact that since we abolished visas for the Americans they have introduced fingerprinting for us? Is that complete reciprocity?

Mr. Harvey

The timing in the hon. Member's suggestion is not quite correct, but I entirely appreciate the position about fingerprinting.

Mr. Ridsdale

Will my hon. Friend not agree that the greatest barrier to travel to the United States is the non-availability of dollars? Will he have conversations with the American Government, or see that his right hon. and learned Friend does, to see whether tourist dollars could not be made available at a reasonably cheap rate so that, for example, tourists would not have to pay £2 for a steak in New York?

Mr. Harvey

My hon. Friend's proposal is attractive, but at the same time has nothing to do with passports.