§ 8. Mr. Nabarro
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what considerations now require the foreign travel allowance to be maintained at £100 per adult person per annum; when this figure was introduced; and whether he will raise it to £250 per adult person in good time for summer holidays oversea.
13. Mr. Gresham Cooke
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether, in view of the improved balance of payments position, he will consider doubling the basic foreign travel allowance to all countries except the dollar area.
The basic travel allowance has been £100 a year since November, 1954, for travel to non-dollar countries, and since June, 1957, for travel to the dollar area. I am keeping the question of an increase in this allowance under review, but I have no statement to make at present.
§ Mr. Nabarro
While recognising that in the overwhelming majority of cases £100 per head per annum is adequate, will my right hon. Friend have regard to the fact that British travellers overseas suffer considerable indignity as a result of these restrictions compared with, for example, a West German who has no restrictions upon him, whether he travels as a businessman or otherwise? As it is damaging to national reputation and trade that the West German should be in a better position than ourselves, will not my right hon. Friend consider the matter from that point of view?
I think my hon. Friend is exaggerating, if he will permit me to 197 say so. I cannot think that British travellers are suffering anything that could be reasonably described as an indignity.
Mr. Gresham Cooke
Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that if the basic travel allowance were increased there would probably be fewer demands on his Department for the businessman's allowance?
I will bear that relevant point in mind, but there are a number of other commitments which I must bear in mind at the same time.
§ Mr. Cronin
Will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that only a very small, privileged handful of people can afford holidays abroad at the rate of £250 per person?
§ 9. Mr. Nabarro
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer for what reasons the Scandinavian travel allowance is still maintained at £250 per adult person per annum compared with £100 elsewhere, oversea; what were the origins of this contradistinction; and if he will now give to British travellers oversea. to other countries using dead-soft foreign currencies, treatment similar to that given to travellers to countries using the Swedish, Norwegian and Danish kroner, respectively.
The Uniscan Declaration of January. 1950, provided for the removal of restrictions on current payments between the four countries concerned, and this provision involves virtual freedom for travel expenditure. I do not know what my hon. Friend means by other countries using dead soft foreign currencies"
§ Mr. Nabarro
I am sorry if my right hon. Friend has not followed the purport of the Question. but would he not agree that this special dispensation for Scanclinavian currencies was made because 198 they were at the time "dead-soft"? As today there are many European currencies which are as soft, if not softer, including the Italian lire, the Spanish peseta and the Portuguese escudo, would not my right hon. Friend end the contradistinction referred to in this Question and give £250 to anyone to travel anywhere in Europe?
I do not think that the logic of my hon. Friend is impeccable in this case. I think that the conception of hard and soft currencies is now largely outdated.
I shall not say whether they are all soft or all hard, but the distinction to draw between the two is not so easy as that.
12. Mr. Gresham Cooke
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what percentage of applicants for foreign travel basic allowances do not apply for the full amount of £100 to which they are entitled.
Mr. Gresham Cooke
If, as I am informed, a great number of people apply for very much less than £100, would that not lend additional point to the argument of my hon. Friend the Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Nabarro) for increasing the amount for those who need more?