HC Deb 27 October 1960 vol 627 cc2568-9
25 and 26. Sir L. Plummer

asked the President of the Board of Trade (1) what is the cost of printing the forms which are to be used under his Department's Order under Section 10 of the Statistics of Trade Act, 1947, which is scheduled to become effective from January, 1961;

(2) what is the expected annual cost of the administration of his Department's new Order which demands that British subjects shall fill in a new form when entering or leaving the United Kingdom by air, and which is to be effective from January, 1961.

Mr. J. Rodgers

My right hon. Friend has not yet made the Order to which the hon. Member refers. He will not be responsible for its administration but he understands that the Departments concerned estimate that the cost of printing the cards will be about £500 a year and the cost of compiling and publishing the information obtained from them should not exceed £15,000. As the arrangements for distributing the cards to passengers have not yet been settled, no estimate of this handling cost is available.

Sir L. Plummer

Will the Minister consider, not on financial grounds but on the grounds of his own party's electoral policy, abolishing all these forms and stopping this nonsense straight away? What is the purpose of putting travellers through the misery of having to fill up these forms before they leave the country? If the forms are required for statistical purposes, why cannot the Minister get the information from the companies? Does not he appreciate that this is going to mean that people will have to get to the airports even earlier than now if they are to fill in these forms? What does he propose to say to the Airline Operators' Committee, representing twenty-six of the long-haulage airline operators who are now making it quite clear that they will not co-operate in the matter?

Mr. Rodgers

None of us likes extra forms to fill in. I agree with the hon. Gentleman about that. But the main purposes for which this information is required are to assist in our estimates of balance of payments credits and debits arising from the movement of tourists and migrants; to provide information about emigrants from this country, in particular about the loss to this country through the emigration of skilled people; and to provide information about the immigration into this country of people from other parts of the Commonwealth. I am sure the hon. Gentleman will agree that this is a very important object and that this is the best way of getting the information.