§ 8. Mr. Boyden
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he intends to allow overseas visitors to bring their motor cars to England for the current holiday season without the formal Customs documents hitherto required and now abolished by most Western European countries on the temporary importation of foreign motor cars.
Our situation is different from that of other Western European countries. The present arrangements safeguard the high import duty and Purchase Tax charges on imported road vehicles without undue inconvenience or delay to overseas visitors. While therefore I cannot hold out any hope of dispensing with the Customs documents to which the hon. Gentleman refers, I should be ready to consider any alternative scheme which would provide effective safeguards for the revenue.
§ Mr. Boyden
Surely the Chancellor agrees that this would be valuable to the tourist industry? Surely, on the face of it, it ought to be easier for Britain to control the import of cars, with a sea crossing and so on, than it is for a Continental country? Will the right hon. Gentleman have another look at it and see what can be done?
I will keep on having a look at this, because the more we can get rid of restrictions of this kind the better is will be. So far, however, a satisfactory alternative way of protecting the Revenue has not been found. We have to remember that the number of cars coining into the country is rising 190 every year now. Our peculiar conditions are a high rate of import duty and a high rate of Purchase Tax, and, as has been said, there is the sea crossing. In these circumstances, it has so far been found difficult to devise an alternative way of protecting the revenue, but I will most gladly consider any suggestion which may be put to me.
§ Mr. Hirst
Is my right hon. Friend aware that certain other countries—Belgium, in particular—have that problem and have overcome it and that we appear to be very old-fashioned and somewhat ridiculous in this regard? Does not this warrant a much closer examination? Only Spain and Portugal are left, apart from ourselves.
I think that some of the other countries have had to do it almost faute de mieux because they could not control the passage of cars across their land frontiers. That is the reason why their problem is different from ours. Still, I recognise the desire and will continue to look at the matter. As I have said, I will consider every practical alternative suggestion that is put to me.